Skiing: The Winter Sport of Norwegian Boys and Girls
By Alberta Platt
IN the northern parts of the United States we are harrowing a popular winter sport from Norway and Sweden. In Scandinavia all the people, men, women and children, ski.
When the Norwegians migrated to our northwest they brought with them their national winter sport of skiing. Then Americans tried it in Minnesota and in the Rocky mountains. Next, skiing spread eastward In the Adirondack mountains lumbermen tried it as easy method of getting from one place to another. So it was an easy method after they had learned it, bat a rough enough way until they had learned it In the Adirondacks are many winter camps of wealthy people who go there either for health or hunting, and nothing would do but they, too, must try skiing for the fun of it. In several places the schoolboys have flourishing ski clubs Norwegians who went to Canada took their skis with them there, and the Canadians also learned their way of traveling over the unbroken snow.
The cavalrymen In Yellowstone park find the snow sometimes too deep to go through on horseback, and they, too, travel on skis The soldiers who garrison forts In the cold, mountainous districts of Europe have companies of even trained to march on skis They climb mountain sides and leap precipices with these queer articles strapped to their feet.
Skis are like broad, flat runners Instead of sitting in a sleigh drawn by a horse, the traveler just mounts a pair of sled runners and goes afoot He himself is the horse, the sleigh and the person who Is sleigh riding.
A ski is seven feet long, four Inches wide and very thin, with the front ends curved upward like sled runners It is made of light, very strong wood Two straps bind the runner to the foot, one over the toe, the other at the heel One cannot wear an ordinary shoe with a ski, however. A soft fur or skin shoe, a leather sock with the hair left on, is worn over woolen socks An ordinary leather shoe would be far too stiff to allow free motion of the foot The pioneers in our states where there is much snow learned from the Indians the use of snowshoes, but ski traveling is a great Improvement on that The ski is less fatiguing, and one can make much better speed upon it than upon snowshoes.
The ski is so built that, mounted upon it, one can go uphill, downhill or over level ground Learning to ski is like just balancing oneself upon a pair of sled runners and then going it. The learner can lee a long stick, changing it from one hand to the other, as he needs it to aid in the balancing or to stick In the hard snow to regulate his speed. Expert skiers hardly use the stick at all though it is nearly always carried Upon these runners it Is easy to travel eight or nine miles an hour and to keep up this gait several hours
Ski racers have made some remarkable records The longest ski race of which mention is made lasted twenty-two hours, with several rests Included in that time and the runner traveled 140 miles In another race a Norwegian slid over fifty-two miles of snow In less than five hours The road was a very rough and hilly one The most marvelous feats are performed, however, by the jumping or leaping skiers.
In a cold climate snow among the mountains continues to fall in winter till it becomes many feet deep especially In valleys and in clefts of the rocks it becomes so deep, in fact, that one might jump over a precipice and bury himself in it without hurt That Is what the strong and nimble ski riders do They slide on land on over the snow till they come to a very steep declivity or even to a sheer precipice, and then they draw themselves together and put all their strength into a fast flying leap into midair. The descending ground makes them sail through the air many feet before they strike bottom, which they do only to be burled in the soft, cushion like snow It scarcely ever happens that the jumper Is hurt, but the tremendous leap through the air is a thrilling experience.
In Norway a man once covered 130 feet In a ski Jump After you learn how to do It there is more fun in sliding on skis than even in tobogganing
Source: The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, January 22, 1905