History of Skiing

It is thought that Skiing started in Northern Europe and Asia thousands of years ago. The first skis were made from strapping the bones of large animals to the toe of their boots using leather strips!

Cross country skiing was used for transport and in wars across the centuries and developed mainly for military use. Downhill skiing only became possible after 1850 when Norwegian Sondre Norheim invented the first stiff bindings by tying pieces of twisted wet birch roots on his boots!

But it was in Austria when skiing as we know it really developed. In 1896, Austrian Mathias Zdarsky first discovered that pushing one Ski at an angle  could control speed (ie the “snowplough”). Johannes Schneider, the  young ski guide at the Hotel Post, St Anton was inspired by Zdarsky and developed his own technique on the Galzig Mountain in St Anton in the years before the first world war, creating the “stem turn” and progressing to the “stem cristie”. After the War he returned to the Hotel Post having taught thousands of WWI mountain troops to ski, and began to teach a growing influx of mostly Swiss and British on the slopes. He founded Austria's first ski school in St. Anton in 1922 and called his system the now famous “Arlberg Technique” - which today still forms the basis of most modern ski instruction.

Today St Anton is one of the world’s most famous and best loved resorts, having grown from a pretty alpine village into an international resort with an award winning ski school.

Many of our resorts in Austria, France and Swtizerland played a key part in the history of skiing as we know it:

• 1921—The first modern slalom race, the Alpine Ski Challenge Cup, was held at Mürren, Switzerland

• 1924 - The International Ski Federation (FIS) was formed in Chamonix, France

• 1928—The first open international alpine combined event —the Arlberg-Kandahar was held in St. Anton, Austria

• 1930s - The Parallel turn was invented by the Frenchman Émile Allais. This style became popular after the victories of the French national team in the 1937 and 1938 World Alpine Ski Championships.

• 1934 – Walter Ingham (Inghams founder) took his first tour group to Austria.

• 1935—First T-bar lift at Davos, Switzerland.

• 1936 – Alpine skiing was introduced to the 3rd Winter Olympic Games in Garmisch which gave the sport mainstream recognition.

Walter Ingham took his first tour to Austria 75 years ago but it remained the preserve of the richer middle classes until the 1960s & 70s when package holidays became more accessible and affordable. Nowadays, Skiing is by far the world's most popular winter sport, with an estimated 45 million participants worldwide and 1.3 million each year taking holidays from the UK.

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