5000+ years of Cross-Country Skiing

CC skiing is a grandfather of all ski sports. It all started more than 5000 years ago as a technique of traveling cross-country over snow on skis, with beginnings in Scandinavia.

Skis were in regular use by Sami people, Scandinavian farmers, hunters and warriors throughout the Middle Ages. Early skiers used one long pole or spear. The first use of two ski poles dates from 1741.


The first organized skiing races were held by Norwegian and Danish military in 1767, and included downhill in rough terrain, target practice while skiing downhill, and 3 km cross-country skiing with full military backpack.

First public skiing competition was held in Tromsø, Norway on March 1843, and also reported in a newspaper. First ski club was founded 1861 in Trøndelag, Norway (Inderøens Skiløber forening).

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

European immigrants brought skiing to North America. The first recorded ski race occurred  in California in 1863. First pure cross-country competition was held in Trondheim in 1884.


In 1888 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his team crossed the Greenland icecap on skis. In 1910 Roald Amundsen used skis on his South Pole Expedition.


In 1959 the first successful plastic fiberglass ski was invented, from then on, the concept spread rapidly.


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