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Ski Museum Proves: Norwegians are born with skis on

posted on 25th April 2008 under Habits, Sports, Travel Norway, Winter

I’ve finally found it – the proof of the old saying: Norwegians are born with skis on their feet! At least the closest you can get – but I’ll get back to that later! Let’s start with the beginning: A guided tour of Holmenkollen Ski Museum in Oslo. This is the last cultural adventure we arranged for the delegates at this years Annual Meeting of The Norwegian Computer Society (scroll down to see the other posts!).

The Museum illustrates 4000 years of skiing history with rock carvings, skis from the time of the Vikings, and skis from all various parts of Norway that show local handicraft skills and traditions. You will also be able to see modern racing- and XC skis, as well as skis used by athletes throughout the last century. A brand new snow-board exhibition shows this new trend in skiing, keeping the museum up-to-date. Let me give you some examples (click to enlarge):

NorSki2 NorSki1

Left: The guide show skies from mid Norway which where mostly made of birch and usually decorated and designed for of the tip is typical of the area. Long, narrow skis where well suited to the mountain plateaus.
Right: From Telemark (my county): Skis had tapered shape. Only in the 1880s did the concave shape become standard, making sharp turns possible and this has of course been popular worldwide. Skies of this area is mostly made of pine or oak. You can also see the typical ‘rose painting’ from Telemark in the picture too!

Let’s take a look at the equipment:
NorSkiPole NorSkiBinding

Left: Skiers used only one pole until about 1890. The pole was long and solid, so that the skier could break and make maintain balance. They’re usually made of fir, ash or birch and a disk of wood, bone or horn. Some also had other functions like the upper end could be shaped like a drinking cup or shovel; the latter use by Sami herdsmen seeks reindeer fodder under the snow. They could also be equipped with a sturdy spear-point for hunting bears.
Right: On the oldest skies the binding was just a leather or osier toe band. The Sami and the Army have used heel bindings of leather for centuries. In Telemark they start using osier heel bindings in the 1860s. Specialized bindings for cross-country where introduced in 1913 and for jumping and alpine skiing in about 1930.

The South Pole Expedition:

Talking about Norwegian ski tradition one can hardly avoid mentioning the most famous: Roald Amundsen and the competition when he beats the Englishman R. F. Scott in reaching the South Pole first (1910 -12). They skied almost 3000 km with four dog teams pulling sledge. Here you see Amundsen and his crew planting the Norwegian flag:

NorSkiAmundsen

The proof of the saying:
Then at last, my allegation: Norwegians are born with skies on. My regular readers know I’ve said it before, but it might be hard to believe. At the exhibition you find this boy on ski at Holmenkollen and he is 9 month old:
NorSkiBoy1 NorSkiBoy2

To the right you see an authentic picture of the boy taken by his father: Pål Hansen, who was a photographer. Do I need to say more? He had the same kind of ski equipment I had when I started my career in the beginning of the 1950s :-)

33 Responses to “Ski Museum Proves: Norwegians are born with skis on”

  1. Michael Schuttenberg says:

    I am very interested in wooden and antique skis,and in making my own equipment when I can’t find things I like. while researching old bindings, I came upon this lovely site, but cannot quite see clearly how the bindings in the picture above (on the right, with the bindings on display) are made and mounted. Are there other pictures, close up and from different angles, of these? I will certainly visit the museum next visit to Oslo! Tak!

  2. Very interesting. I knew you were right. I’ve always seen Norwegians with their skies :-)

    …och på tur!!!!

  3. Ruth says:

    I just love the decorated Telemark skis!! This is a neat post and I’ll have to get my husband to have a look…or go there! HA!

  4. Comedy Plus says:

    Norwegians are born with skis on? That’s gotta hurt. Just saying. Love the post. Have a great day. :)

  5. shionge says:

    Hiya Renny…sorry for the long absence but hey wha an interesting post about skis, makes me wanna put on a pair to ski now ehehhehe….

    When I was in Finland I saw that people take on two sticks and pretend to ski but actually they are walking with the motion just like skiing….a new form of workout I was told.

  6. AngelBaby says:

    Ok, I confess I am a California girl and I have never been on skies. I would love to learn how to ski, just never had the opportunity. I loved the nine month old on skies, so cool! I loved this post, thanks for sharing this.

    Love and Blessings,
    AngelBaby

  7. Robyn says:

    Right…you’ve convinced me that Norwegians are born with skis on, especially after seeing that little fellow on his skis…amazing.

    It’s interesting to see how the ski has evolved and yet is still basically the same. Fascinating stuff, Renny.

  8. Zhu says:

    I’ve never seen that many skis! :lol:

    We have the “hockey hall of fame” in Toronto, I guess it’s the proof that Canadian are born to play hockey — or at least to watch it!

    Interesting though, Never heard of a similar museum anywhere in the world.

  9. A Ski Museum! How cool!
    Coming from a tropical country, I envy your snow covered mountains and ski-ing during winter. I want to experience the thrill of ski-ing down a snow covered slope! Wheeeee!

  10. iWalk says:

    Dear Renny, How old were you when you first time play ski?
    I still not have a chance to learn it:(

  11. aka R'acquel says:

    What a cool museum – with good presentation too!

  12. Ginnie says:

    Now I definitely believe you, Renny! Seeing is believing. :)

    RennyBA
    I’m glad Ginnie – good to be able to prove it you know :)

  13. DianeCA says:

    It is great to see there are new exhibits at the museum. We will have to take some quality time together there soon. We were there last when my father visited us in January 2007! Looking forward to a date ;-)

    RennyBA
    Yea, the exhibit has changed since we where there last with you Dad!
    I do agree, lets plan for another quality time!

  14. laketrees says:

    wow Renny …
    aren’t they ornate…and that rose painting is exquisite !!
    I have no doubt now that Norwegians are born with skis on….the pic of the little boy is great :)

    RennyBA
    Glad you liked it Kim! and Glad you believe me :)

  15. Elliot says:

    The awesomeness of human adaptation! \m/

    yeah, if you find my blog entries at Everything Kimchi worthy of a technorati fav, or a blogcatalog linkex, please don’t hesitate to do so. I shall return the e-love. Cheers!

    RennyBA
    Hi Elliot – great to see you and from The Big Bang meme – thanks for your contribution!
    You are a contact in most of my communities now :-)

  16. tin-tin says:

    i believe this. coz you also ski even without snow, right? :)

    RennyBA
    Glad to convince you and of course: even without snow (on water!) :)

  17. ghee says:

    Hello Renny,
    Yeah,I do believe that Norwegians are great skiers!Now you prove it more to us. :)
    The equipments are really interesting!From the classic to new ones!

    I was so excited to visit your site,Renny!I apologize for missing lots of your posts.I am finally back,alive and kicking!

    Miss yah!
    hugs, ghee

    RennyBA
    Hi Ghee, great to see you back in blogsphere and I’m glad you liked to read about the proof of the pudding!
    No reasons to apologize – we’re all on and off some times!

  18. Rahul says:

    ww fascinating ! i have never seen real life skis in my life :( although i have lived in an area where u get snowfall but there wasnt enough snow to ski ! lol @ the old skis :D they look like enlarged hockey skis ! i wonder if some ski’s are made by the turks coz the design looks a bit turkish ( i am in India so i am not sure about this ) .

    An original post from a great blog is always fascinating ! Great stuff sir !

    RennyBA
    Glad you liked it – you should come to Norway and ski one day then!
    Don’t know about turks, but maybe skies are international after all :-)
    Thanks for your compliments!

  19. tutubi says:

    interesting! no skis in this part of the world w/o snow. we only have waterskis and wakeboarding and other stuff. as i’ve told you before, i’ve never been to a snowy place

    RennyBA
    Like I’ve said before: You should come to Norway and try one winter, but of course: water skiing is great fun too!

  20. TorAa says:

    A very interesting museum. It tells more than the development of skis. It’s also about how people survived here up north in ancient times. How they could go from one place to another and how they could hunt during the winters.

    btw. I do have a pair of ski, at our summer home, self-made by my grandpa from Telemark. The kind of ski with this special tip. In fact they were called “Sukkertopp” – Sugartops – as it looked like Sugar Lumps – Why? Snow Crests were easily tackled.

    Have a great weekend all of you

    RennyBA
    Your so right Tor and I know you’ve been there and seen for yourself too.
    What an antique ski you have then – hope soon to see it as we’ll fine a time to visit you in your summer paradise.
    Wishing you a great one too!

  21. Maribeth says:

    My Hubby would be so happy to go there. He would spend the entire day looking at all the exhibits! I think Hubby was born with skis on his feet! He loves to ski, loves to fly down the mountain, even though he is aged 70! (next week!)

    RennyBA
    So its settled then; when you are coming over to visit; we’ll go together to the museum!
    Skiing is for all ages you know!

  22. I have never seen a ski museum…interesting!

    RennyBA
    Glad I could invite you in for the first time then!

  23. Shantanu says:

    Oh wow! That’s awesome…a lot of history here. Given how much snow you get, I guess a ski must have been even more important to people when other modes of transports were lacking. Interesting thought: did the ski exist before they invented the wheel? :-)

    RennyBA
    Good to know your interested in history too and yes: skies where a very important modes of transportation in Norway.
    I think the wheel was invented first though, but maybe not in Norway :-)

  24. A ski museum?! Who would have thought?

    Very cool!

    RennyBA
    The collect all kinds of interesting things you know ;-)

  25. Mar says:

    What an interesting place!! It is always great to have the chance to see the old equipment…
    And of course that little infant skiing before he could walk! amazing…
    Because there are always exceptions to the rule , we know probably the only one Norwegian who doesn’t ski!! (yes, we do! his name is Sjur) As we also know a French guy who doesn’t like any type of cheese!

    RennyBA
    It was interesting and actually I think he could walk but might find it even easier to stumble away on skies :-)
    Send me a picture of Sjur! I must see him! :lol:
    Well, like an Italian who does not like pasta?

  26. Diane says:

    That is fascinating! To be walking at 9months old is amazing enough-never mind skiing!

    I so wish I had learned to ski when I was younger. I am very good at apres-ski though…… :-)

    RennyBA
    As soon as they can walk, the can learn skiing you know!
    - I do understand; the earlier the better – but hey: After Ski programs are great too (especially the Viking way :lol: )

  27. Sueblimely says:

    What amazes me is that the museum contains evidence of “Norwegians being born with skis on” that is 4000 years old.

    When I go back to UK to visit family I visit York and the Jorvik Viking museum – fascinating.

    RennyBA
    They’ve found settlements in Norway 10 000 years back you know.
    Please keep us posted about Jorvik Viking Museum – would love a guided trip!

  28. just me says:

    Are you all among the world ski champions?

    RennyBA
    Almost :lol:

  29. What a fun and interesting post Renny! I love the 9 month old at the end … WOW

    RennyBA
    Glad you found it enjoyable!

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