Remember Skiing On Wooden Skis With A Pine Tar Base And Lathered In Klistervox? Wasn’t That Long Ago.

Norway-born Snowshoe Thompson learned to ski in Telemark, his home town.

Editor Note: XCSkiResort Publisher Roger Lohr has catalogued the main events that propelled XC skiing from a peculiar sport with a small following in the US to a major recreational and racing enterprise with a huge following.  Thanks, Roger, for tracing the trail.

Since wooden skis were found in a peat bog in Sweden dating to 2,000 BC, there have been many milestones that brought xc skiing to where it is today. In the US, the forefathers of xc skiing include legends like Snowshoe Thompson, who delivered the mail in the Sierra Mountains of California and Jack Rabbit Johannsen, who xc skied in northern New York.

The editors of XCSkiResorts.com researched the milestones of modern XC skiing in order of significance:

1. Development of synthetic xc skis in 1974.
2. Development of the waxless based ski in the early 1970’s, most notably the Trak ski with synthetic fish scales on the ski base to eliminate the need for ski waxes. The waxless base gave the recreational skier grip on uphill travel while also allowing gliding downhill.
3. Integrated xc ski binding systems, which provided substantial improvements in simplicity of boot/binding interface and control in the mid 70’s.

4. Bill Koch won the Olympic silver medal in 1976  at Innsbruck and at the World Cup in 1982, the first American to ever win at that level. The Nordic Track exerciser used the Koch image as a fitness icon in advertisements for years. In 2010, there were US Olympic medalists in Nordic Combined and in 2012 there was a World Cup winner in women’s sprint.
5. The onset of the commercial xc ski area concept began in 1968-69 at Trapp Family Lodge. This brought designed, groomed, and maintained trails making xc skiing easier and safer for the average person.
6. The skating technique proliferated for a faster paced and higher performance form of recreation.
7. Revolution Skis developed by Fischer led the way to shorter skis, which were easier to use and consolidated ski sizing and simplified ski selection.
8. New, lighter clothing with synthetic and breathable materials made XC skiing more comfortable; company brands such as Mother Karen led the way in the late 1970’s.
9. Other technological advances such as the 2 Wax System that offered one wax for cold temperatures and one for warm temperatures simplified ski waxing.  BackCountry binding systems provided a beefed up boot/binding system that provided substantially more support and control for backcountry recreation.

New NIS bindings link boot with ski using a plate.

10. Will the Nordic Integrated System (NIS) developed in 2005 change the ski/binding interface? This system combines the ski and binding at manufacture rather than at the retail store.

 

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