The popularity of skiing has grown enormously since the 1970s. Unprecedented numbers of people now take to the slopes each year to embark on ski holidays. Although skiing has only recently become an extremely popular pastime it is rooted in Ancient Mythology.
Ski Holidays were first mentioned in a book of Norse Mythology. The Prose Edda is a collection of Icelandic poems that was written by Snorri Sturluson in 1220. The collection includes many stories from Norse Mythology. The anthology is separated into two parts. The second section is called the Skaldskaparmal and it includes the story of Skadi the snow shoe goddess.
The giantess Skadi was the daughter of the giant Thjazi and the wife of Nord. The story follows that Thjazi was killed by the gods after he kidnapped Idunn who was the custodian of apples that preserved youthfulness. Horrified, Skadi takes up her armour and weapons and travels to Asgard, the place where the Gods lived, to avenge his death. The Gods are remorseful and offer Skadi the opportunity to choose a husband from amongst them as compensation for her loss. She is only able to see their feet whilst she makes her decision. She selects a pair of feet that she finds particularly beautiful and they belong to the God of wind and sea Njord.
The second part of the compensation settlement was that the Gods were to make Skadi laugh. This was considered seemingly impossible. The God charged with this task making her laugh was Loki. In an attempt to make her laugh he takes a cord and ties one end of the cord around his testicles. He then ties the other end of the chord to a goat’s beard. He then proceeded to tug against the goat. As the two squealed Skadi could not control her laughter and the God’s achieved atonement.
Problems arose when the newlyweds tried to set up their first home. Njord wanted to live near the sea but Skadi could not stand the sound of the seagulls. Skadi on the other hand wanted to live in the mountains however Njord could not stand the sound of the wolves. Eventually the couple were forced to separate. Skadi returned to her mountain home and spends her time travelling across the mountain snow on skis and hunting with her bow and arrow. This is why she is known as the snowshoe goddess and can be seen as the grandmother of skiing.
If Skadi is the grandmother of skiing then the father of modern skiing is Sondre Norheim. Norheim is from the small Nowegian town of Morghedal known as the cradle of skiing. He pioneered the improvement of ski fittings and his friends were the first to run ski schools that taught people how to ski. He was an enthusiastic downhill skier and made the improvements to the ski bindings so that he could turn easier on the slopes. This has improved the pace at which skiers can complete a slope and has contributed to the increase in people embarking on ski holidays.
Shaun Parker has been an avid skier for many years. He shares his knowledge to help advise people off on their ski holidays