Skis and Skiing: From the Stone Age to the Birth of the Sport

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This book examines the prehistory and history of skiing from thousands of years ago to the late 19th century. It brings together a wealth of information available only in obscure publications, most of them either out of print and essentially unavailable, or inaccessible to most because they are in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Russian, etc.. It particularly examines the contributions of the hunter-gatherer Sámi culture in the evolution of skis and skiing. With many illustrations.


“This history has been elegantly and expertly reconstructed in John Weinstock’s pioneering history of skiing, a richly documented narrative that takes this story up to the middle of the nineteenth century. The fortunate reader who embarks upon the long and fascinating journey recounted in these pages will encounter nothing less than the story of civilization itself. Here are ancient texts and rock carvings that number among the rarest and most dramatic records of our ancient ancestors. Here, too, we find ancient artifacts exhumed from bogs that enable us to read the past…. Skiing introduces us as well to the world of Nordic mythology and the Viking civilization…. this book could only have been written by a scholar who has devoted a lifetime to Scandinavian studies….the essential introduction to how skiing became nothing less than a badge of citizenship for a proud Nordic people.” – John Hoberman, University of Texas at Austin

“He deftly and authoritatively guides us through the winter landscape in which we are informed about the technological, the archeological, and the linguistic evidence of the long history of skiing. It is a journey of near epic proportions led by a scholar possessing a wide linguistic expertise and intimate knowledge of the cultures where the sport of skiing developed and thrived and from where it, subsequently, spread throughout the world….Skis and Skiing is a history that delights the reader with its comprehensive scholarship, its numerous and varied literary references, and its contemporary relevance to elements of popular culture as well. An exceptional book, richly illustrated, and highly recommended.” – Terje I. Leiren, Professor of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington

Table of Contents

1. Early Evidence: Literary Reference
2. The Ski in Rock Carvings
3. Skis Found in Peat Bogs
4. The Sámi and the Evolution of Skiing
5. Circumpolar Myths about Skiing
6. Skiing during the Viking Age
7. The Technological Evolution of the Ski
8. Skiing in Literature I: The Medieval Period
9. Military Use of Skis
10. Skiing in Literature II: 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries
11. Sondre Norheim, Pavva Lásse Tuorda and the Birth of the Sport
12. Skiing in Literature III: 19th Century
13. Skiing Spreads Around the World
Appendices: Evolution of Man to the Late Stone Age
Reindeer Hunters of Post-glacial Scandinavia
Winter Travel in the North – Snowshoes
Literary References to Snowshoes

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