WSJ Historically Speaking: A Speedy History of Skiing



Although Northern Europe once again dominated the medal table recently at the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships in Colorado, the list of competing countries also included such snow-­‐deprived countries as Haiti, Israel and Jamaica.

Not only has skiing grown popular in countries more usually associated with beach barbecues, historians of the sport have now discovered that its roots are far more diverse than originally imagined.

The earliest known ski fragment—unearthed near Lake Sindor, some 745 miles northeast of Moscow—dates roughly to 6,000 B.C. In Norway, Sweden and Finland, archaeologists have found rock carvings known as petroglyphs that depict hunters on skis chasing wild animals. One drawing found in 2001 in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, often referred to as Bola Man, is thought to be about 5,500 years old.

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