Alpine skiing. The words make it sound like downhill skiing started in the alps, right? Wrong. When the Austrian enthusiasts started skiing they used skis that had been sent as gifts from Norway. In particular it was the woodcarvers and skiers of Telemark that really took skis and skiing to the next level.
In 1868 the first Norwegian ski championships were being announced in Christiania (Oslo). The news reached to Sondre Norheim in Morgedal, Telemark. Sondre and two friends skied for three days (322 km) to compete at Holmenkollen. There he not only won and outclassed athletes many years younger with his 18-meter jump, but he also demonstrated technique at a level previously unseen. Pioneering not only the parallel slalom-turn but also the Telemark-turn.
Sondre was a pioneer also when it came to equipment. He was the first to use bindings around the heel for added stability, and he designed skis with incurving sides, like modern-day carving skis. Sondre Norheim has become known as the father of modern skiing. Three times, (1952, 1960 and 1994) the Olympic flame for the winter games have been lit at his birthplace in Øvrebo, Morgedal. At Gausta Skisenter the great slope Sondreløype carries his name.
Did you know?
Did you know that the word slalåm originated from Telmark as a combination of two local dialect words? Sla meaning slanting terrain, and låm meaning traces in the snow. The first slalom competition was held close to Morgedal in 1886.