The oldest and most accurately documented evidence of skiing origins is found in modern day Norway and Sweden. The earliest primitive carvings circa 5000 B.C. depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway. The first primitive ski was found in a peat bog in Hoting, Sweden which dates back to 4500 or 2500 B.C. Joel Berglund reported in 2004 the discovery of a primitive ski, or “85cm long piece of wood”, carbon tested by researchers in 1997 while excavating a Norse settlement near Nanortalik, Greenland. The primitive ski dated back to 1010, and is thought to be Greenland’s oldest ski brought by Norsemen circa 980 A.D.
The word “ski” itself is one of a handful of words Norway has exported to the international community. It comes from the Old Norse word “skíð” which means “split piece of wood or firewood”.
The first Australian recreational ski club was formed in 1861 at Kiandra, where the first documented international downhill carnival was also held. Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century. The first public skiing competition (“betting race”) was held in Tromsø, Norway on March 19, 1843. It was also the first skiing competition reported in a newspaper.
The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are organized by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The first world championships in alpine skiing were held in 1931. During the 1930s, the event was held annually in Europe, until interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, preventing a 1940 event. An event was held in 1941, but included competitors only from nations from the Axis powers or nations not at war with them. The results were later cancelled by the FIS in 1946 because of the limited number of participants, so they are not considered official.
Following the war, the championships were connected with the Olympics for several decades. From 1948 through 1982, the competition was held in even-numbered years, with the Winter Olympics acting as the World Championships through 1980, and a separate competition held in even-numbered non-Olympic years. The 1950 championships in the United States at Aspen were the first held outside of Europe and the first official championships separate of the Olympics since 1939.
The combined event was dropped after 1948 with the addition of the giant slalom in 1950, but returned in 1954 as a “paper” race which used the results of the three events: downhill, giant slalom, and slalom. During Olympic years from 1956 through 1980, FIS World Championship medals were awarded in the combined, but not Olympic medals. The combined returned as a separately run event in 1982 with its own downhill and two-run slalom, and the Super-G was added to the program in 1987. (Both were also added to the Olympics in 1988.)
There were no World Championships in 1983 or 1984 and since 1985, they have been scheduled in odd-numbered years, independent of the Winter Olympics. A lack of snow in southern Spain in 1995 caused a postponement to the following year.
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