9 things you never knew about cross-country skiing
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about the internet, it’s that if you want hits, your title needs to have a number in it, address the audience directly, and pique curiosity in something they probably wouldn’t normally care about. In this spirit, I’ve compiled a list of some little known facts about skiing, complete with slow-loading gifs (pronounced “jiff”, I believe) and mildly entertaining captions. Your actual ignorance of these things is not guaranteed.
1. Skiing pre-dates the pyramids!
Just kidding. But close! First records are circa 2000 BC (pyramids were a few hundred years earlier).
Note: I later found a sketchy source saying that a 22,000 year old cave drawing of a Cro-Magnon hunting with skis was found in central France.
Another source said that the oldest known ski was found in Sweden and dates 4500-2500 BC.
2. Cross-country skiing has been in the Olympics for longer than alpine skiing.
In fact, it was one of the original 7 events in the first Winter Olympics in 1924. Alpine skiing wasn’t added until 1936. In 1924 there were two events, an 18 km and 50 km race. The same man, Thorleif Haug (NOR) won both (as well as the Nordic combined event).
Image source: https://skiinghistory.org/news/french-connection-first-winter-games
3. The 6 most decorated Winter Olympic athletes of all time are all cross country skiers.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is the most with 13 medals (8 golds), and he is a biathlete technically, but we’ll let that slide. The rest of the list is: Bjorn Daehlie (12), Marit Bjorgen (10), Raisa Smetanina (10), Stefania Belmondo (10), and Lyubov Yegorova.
4. Nordic combined competitions pre-date pure cross-country competitions.
Black and white image of a ski jumper, so likely old and therefore relevant to the above statement.
5. Rollerskis have been around since the 1600’s.
Federico De Florian in the training with rollerskis, probably to the year 1958. This is the oldest photo I could find of rollerskis and totally isn't that relevant.
6. The first recorded cross-country ski race happened in 1863 in California.
This is a map of California, in lieu of a video of this competition. It would have happened somewhere in this area.
7. The word “ski” comes from the Norwegian word skķš, meaning piece of wood.
This is a piece of wood.
8. Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 crew in 1972 said that cross-country skiing was ideal training for moon walking (like literally walking on the moon). He is the fastest recorded man on the moon (at 11 km/h)
This is what Harrison Schmitt looked like walking on the moon. Pretty pro.
Full video from the IAF youtube channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjWiMYr6XDA.
9. Cross country skiing is waay safer than alpine.
Approximately 1.7% of snow skiing related injuries in one study were due to cross country skiing. The most common causes of injury are falls. Knees are the most commonly injured body part. Other areas include forearm, wrist, hand, thumb and ankles. Hypothermia and frostbite can also occur.