Timeline of Important Ski History Dates

Complied by Mort Lund; Updated by John Allen and Seth Masia


Before 10,000 years ago: With the retreat of glaciers after the last Ice Age, tribes move into the forest and tundra south and east of the Baltic Sea. Travel and hunting across the frozen lakes and swamps encourages development of snowshoes and sleds. Stone Age hunters follow herds of elk and reindeer. Snowshoes evolve into longer fur-covered skis, which enable hunters to move faster over snow than elk and deer can move. Skiing tribes migrate eastward across Asia and north into Scandinavia.

About 6,000 years ago: Skiing is well established across the Eurasian arctic regions. Archaelogical evidence is strong that hunters used skis from Norway to northwestern Russia. Unrestricted travel across Siberia possible only when rivers and bogs are frozen.

350 BCE: First direct reference to skiing in Chinese literature.

16th century: First mentions of skiing in European literature, usually in reference to the "Scridfinns" ("Skiing Finns" or Lapps), the people who called themselves Saami.

18th century: Military units across Scandinavia have organized brigades of ski troops. First organized military competitions. Russian trappers bring skis to Alaska.

Early 19th century: Evidence of skis with sidecut and camber.

1843—First newspaper reference to an organized cross-country ski race, in Tromso, Norway. 

1840s—Sondre Norheim, of Morgedal, Telemark, discovers the perfect heel strap, cleverly entwined shoots of the birch tree root, with enough stiffness to provide sufficient control of the ski to steer it and enough elasticity to stay snugly around the heel to keep the toe in the toestrap even going off a jump, making possible both modern downhill and ski-jumping. (HerW1996 p7)

1850s—Norwegian sailors jump ship in San Francisco to join the California gold rush. They teach skiing to the winter-bound residents of mining camps, who organize longboard racing. Similar process in Austalian gold rush. First ski clubs outside Scandinavia.

1866—In a competition conducted by the Centralforeigning, or Central Ski Association in the Norwegian capital Christiania (now called Oslo), Sondre Norheim and his fellow Telemarkers demonstrate what is later called the telemark turn and the Christiania skidded stop turn. (Ski/R 1983 p33) (Her W1996 p7)

1868—Steam trains begin carrying mail, passengers and skiers into the mountains in Europe and North America.

1870—Sondre Norheim popularizes the first modern sidecut ski, the “Telemark ski,” setting the basic pattern followed for a century thereafter, producing a narrow-waisted ski that flexed more readily when edged, facilitating turns in soft snow. (Friedl )

1870s—Development of machine tools with carbon-steel blades enables mass production of hardwood skis, including skis made from expensive American hickory.

1879—First North American ski manufacturing undertaken by Norwegian immigrant Martin A. Strand in Minnesota.

1882—Norske Ski Club, Berlin, New Hampshire, first modern ski club in America, is organized by resident Norwegians to remain oldest U.S. ski club with a continuous history. (Amski 1966 page 445)

1890—Publication of Paa Ski Over Grønland by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, detailing his pioneer 1888 traverse of southern Greenland, on skis dragging sledges for 300 miles, using oakwood skis with three grooves, using one long stick for part of the journey and two sticks on the inland ice. (Lunn 1952 p179)

1896—Retired school teacher Mathias Zdarsky of Lilienfeld, Austria, a village 90 miles west of Vienna, publishes the first book, Lillienfeld Skilaufer Technik, on the methodical use of the double stem brake and the stem turn, with the use of one long pole, in Alpine skiing for the ascent and descent of steep mountain sides. (Amski 1966 p445)

1905—National Ski Association founded at Ishpeming, Michigan with Carl Tellefsen, former jumper and head of the Ishpeming Ski Club, elected first president, following the first national jumping championship at Ishpeming. (Amski 1966 p445 )

1908—First mechanical ski tow, powered by a water mill, built by Rober Winkelhalder at his hotel in Germany's Schwarzwald region. French Army organizes first ski races for alpine troops.

1910—First International Ski Congress is held at Christiania, Norway, an organization which became the forerunner of the Federation Internationale de Ski, the international ruling body of skiing. (Amski 1966 p446)

1910—In January, Johannes Schneider, the ski guide at the Hotel Post in St.Anton, Austria, since 1907 at 17 years of age, created the stem christie with an up-movement to close the skis in the turn in order to complete turns more easily, producing a sliding turn; its use later extended to all conditions as the expert turn that stood atop an integrated ski technique that began with the double stem brake or snowplow, and progressed through the single-stem to the stem christie, the basis for what became known as the Arlberg Technique. (Friedl) (Fairlie pp71-72)

1910—Skiers ride a steam-powered toboggan tow in Truckee, California.

1911—Ole Ellevold, St. Paul, Minnesota, founds a ski factory, later called the Northland Ski Company. Its hickory skis dominated the market for another 30 years. (Amski 1966 p446)

1911—First run of the world’s first downhill classic, the Roberts of Kandahar Cup, run over the Plaine Morte Glacier in Montana, Switzerland: winner, Cecil Hopkinson. (Friedl ) (Lunn 1952 p182)

World War I—Thousands of Austrian and Italian troops fighting across the Dolomites are taught to ski.

1916--Christian A. Lund gains control of the Ellevold ski factory in St. Paul, renames in Northland.

1918—Johannes Schneider, returned from war service to the Hotel Post and, having taught thousands of WWI mountain troops to ski, used that disciplined structure to teach a growing influx of, mostly Swiss and British, his new technique.(Amski 1966 p446)

1920—First paid instructor in a U.S. ski school, Norwegian Henrik Jacobsen, hired at the Lake Placid Club, Lake Placid, N.Y. (Friedl )

1920-24— Hannes Schneider formalized his technique into an instructional system which became known as the Arlberg Technique. (Amski 1966 p446)

1921—First modern slalom race, the Alpine Ski Challenge Cup, held at Mürren, Switzerland, on Jan. 6, after rules set down by Arnold Lunn: first place, J.A. Joannides. The following fall, the first systematic exposition, complete with diagrams of two-gate slalom, was published was published by Lunn in the British Ski Year Book. (Lunn Story1952 p183)

1921—German documentary film maker Arnold Fanck shows history’s first instructional film, Wunder des Schneeschuhs, based on the Arlberg System and demonstrated by “Hannes” Schneider and it has a successful premiere in Freiberg, Germany, Fanck’s home town. (Amski 1966 p446)

1921—In a disagreement with Walter Schuler, proprietor of the Hotel Post, over his taking time off from his ski school to make movies with Dr. Arnold Fanck, Hannes Schneider separated his ski school from the Hotel Post and became a seminal independent ski school.

1921—After encountering Germans at St. Moritz during WWI, Baroness Noemie de Rothschild opens the first purpose-built French ski resort, the Hôtel du Mont d'Arbois at Megève. 

1922—United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association formed. (Amski 1966 p446 )

1922—Arnold Lunn organizes the first timed slalom race, held January 1 at Murren, Switzerland. Previously, slalom competitions were judged on style in telemark and christiania turns. The first race won by English WWI veteran Johnson A. Joannides.

1924—First Olympic Winter Games held at Chamonix, France, with Nordic ski events only. (Amski 1966 p446) Norwegian Thorleif Haug becomes world’s first triple-gold-medal winner: He won the 18-km and 50-km cross-country and Nordic combined. He also won the bronze medal in jumping; Norwegians took home 11 of the 12 gold medals. (CompXc Dial p229 )

1924—The International Ski Congress becomes a permanent organization, the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS); Col. Ivar Holmquist is named first president. (Amski 1966 p446 -7-) (CompXc Dial p229 -5-) (Lunn 1952 p184 )

1925—NSA recognizes USEASA as an affiliate, and it later recognized the other regional ski organizations, forming a truly national organization. (Amski 1966 p446 )

1925—Hannes Schneider and Dr. Fanck publish The Wonders of Skiing (Wunder des Schneeschuhs), with stills from the movie as illustration, sell 100,000 copies in first year, making it the most important and widely read book about skiing in history; translated into English in 1931. (Friedl ) (Ski/R 1983 p36)

1926—First ski shop in the United States opens in Boston under owner Oscar Hambro from Norway. (Amski 1966 p446)

1926—Rudolf Lettner, an amateur mountaineer from Salzburg, patents a segmented steel edge to help skis hold on icy terrain.  

1927—On March 8, the first modern downhill race in the United States was run on Mt. Moosilauke, NH, by the Dartmouth Outing Club. It was won by Charles N. Proctor, of Dartmouth. (1942 ASA pp26-30)

1927—Otto Schniebs emigrates from Germany to Waltham, Mass. to become the first Arlberg instructor in the U.S.; becomes coach of the Harvard team, official instructor for the Appalachian Mountain Club based in Boston, then history’s most successful college ski team coach beginning in 1930 at Dartmouth College, finally setting up an early ski school at Lake Placid in 1936.

1928—On March 9, the first American slalom set by Prof. Charles A. Proctor at Dartmouth College under Arnold Lunn’s experimental FIS rules was won by freshman Bob Baumrucker. (Hooke p231)

1928—Arnold Lunn and Hannes Schneider organize the first open international alpine combined—the Arlberg-Kandahar, March 31-April 1 at St. Anton, Austria, won by Austrian Benno Leubner. (Lunn 1952 p185 -7-) (Ski/R 1983 p36 ) (Amski 1966 p446 )

1928—Second Winter Olympics at St. Moritz held without alpine events, but FIS agrees to let The Ski Club of Great Britain organize FIS-sanctioned downhill and slalom races; U.S. Team, captained by Rolf Monsen, does creditably but wins no medals. (Friedl ) (Lunn 1952 p185)\

1928--Guido Reuge invents the Kandahar binding, which allows an Alpine racer to lock the heel down. In combination with steel edges, the new binding revolutionizes Alpine racing, marking a final break with Nordic-style freeheel skiing.

1929—Peckett’s-on-Sugar Hill ski school, near Franconia, NH, founded by Katharine “Kate” Peckett to become the first resort based ski school in the U.S. Two German instructors taught that first year followed, in 1930, by the Duke Dimitri von Leuchtenberg. In 1931, Sig Buchmayr joined him and became school director the following year when the Duke left. Kate Peckett brought in more European instructors, e.g. the Marquis Nicholas degli Albizzi, or just “The Markee,” and Austrians Harold Suiter, Harold Paumgarten and Kurt Thalhammer to teach the Arlberg system. Among pupils were Nelson Rockefeller, Averell Harriman, Lowell Thomas, Minot Dole and Roger Peabody. (Adler Congress paper p17)

1929—First ski train in the United States runs from Boston to Warner, New Hampshire. (Amski 1966 p447)

1930—At the Univerity Winter Games at Davos, Switzerland, Austrian racers use the steel Lettner edge for the first time. They make razor-sharp turns and win easily. Alpine racing is transformed.  

1931—First FIS World Alpine Championships at Mürren, Switzerland, Swiss racers Walter Prager wins the downhill and David Zogg wins the slalom; British racer Esme Mackinnon wins both women’s downhill and slalom. (Amski 1966 p447)

1932—Third Olympic Winter Games held at Lake Placid, New York, with downhill and slalom still excluded. (Amski 1966 p447)

1932—North America’s first rope tow is invented by Alex Foster and installed at Shawbridge, Quebec. It is powered by a Dodge automobile, jacked up on blocks, with a rope looped around a wheel rim. (Ski/R 1983 p37 ) (Amski 1966 p447 )

1933—Laminated ski construction patented simultaneously by Ostbye-Splitkein in Norway and Anderson & Thompson in Seattle.

1933—First National Downhill Championship is held at Mt. Moosilauke, New Hampshire, and won by Henry (Bem) Woods. (Amski 1966 p447 )

1933—Civilian Conservation Corps under Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt cuts ski trails. Vermont CCC director Montpelier’s Perry Merrill cut the first trails on Mt. Mansfield and became the Father of Vermont Skiing. (MAD 1993 )

1934—January 28 saw the first rope tow installed in the U.S. by Bob and Betty Royce, proprietors of the White Cupboard Inn, in Woodstock, VT. The Royces made sketches of Alec Foster’s first rope tow in Shawbridge, Quebec, and employed David Dodd, a local mechanic, to construct it for them on a sidehill owned by farmer Clinton Gilbert which the Royces leased for the winter. The tow, originally called the Ski-Way, consisted of a continuous loop of rope running over a series of wheels and was driven by the rear wheel of a Model A Ford. Bob Bourdon, a Woodstock native, was its first rider. Wallace “Bunny” Bertram took it over for the second season, improved the operation, renamed it the Ski Tow and eventually moved it to The Gully and then Suicide Six. (interviews Bob Bourdon, Betty Royce, et al)

1934—Ernest Constam, a Zurich engineer, builds world’s first J-bar, debuting in Davos in December, it is converted to a T-bar in 1936 (Ski/R 1983 p37) (Her v8-4 1996 p 15)

1934—Mt. Mansfield Club forms at Stowe, Vt. to encourage use of trails cut on the mountain by CCC. (Friedl )

1934—Limited production of a solid aluminum ski by M. Vicky in France.

1935—First U.S. National Downhill and Slalom championships at Mt. Rainier, Washington; open combined category won by Austrian Hannes Schroll of Salzburg, Austria; amateur combined by Dick Durrance. (Amski 1966 p447 )

1935—The first Kandahar cable binding holding the skier’s heel to the ski is introduced. (Amski 1966 p447 )

1935—The first overhead cable lift, a J-bar is built at Oak Hill in Hanover, New Hampshire, by the Dartmouth Outing Club. (Amski 1966 p448 -7-) (Friedl )

1935—The first U.S. Winter Sports Show, commonly referred to as ski shows, opened in the Boston Garden followed, in 1936, by New York’s first such show in Madison Square Garden. It drew an estimated 80,000 people and turned away thousands more.

1935—First European T-bar: the J-bar at Davos, is converted to a T-bar.

1936—First issue of Ski magazine is published in Seattle by Alf Nydin. Ski/R 1983 p38)(Amski 1966 p448)

1936—First Arlberg ski school at Mt. Mansfield with the arrival of Sepp Ruschp from Austria (Amski 1966 p448 ) under a contract with the Mt. Mansfield Club, starts teaching on a rope tow set up on the Toll House slope; (Friedl), becomes the first Certified Ski Instructor to graduate from the U.S. Examinations held at Woodstock, Vermont. (Ski/R 1983 p40 )

1936—Sun Valley, built by Averell Harriman as a Union Pacific project, opens with world’s first chairlifts put in on Dollar and Proctor hills, designed by Union Pacific Engineer Jim Curran, copied from the banana lifts used in Central America to load United Fruit cargo vessels. (Friedl)

1936—The Third Winter Games holds world’s first Olympic alpine events, a downhill and slalom combined, at Garmisch. Toni Seelos, barred as a professional (along with all the Austrian and Swiss men), foreruns slalom and is timed 12 seconds faster than the winner, Franz Pfnur of Germany. Birger Ruud of Norway wins the downhill segmen of the combined, and also wins the gold medal in jumping. (Amski 1966 p448 ) (Friedl)

1936—Benno Rybizka, a top instructor from Hannes Schneider’s St.Anton ski school, brought to Jackson, NH, by Carroll Reed to head up Reed’s new Eastern Slope Ski School headquartered in what is now the Wildcat Tavern. Mary Bird (Young) was European trained and Rybizka’s top assistant at Jackson. (Rybizka, Reed & Young interviews, local records)

1936—Ski survey of Aspen-Ashcroft area by Andre Roche, Ted Ryan, Billy Fiske, principals in the Highland Lodge, the first ski lodge in Roaring Fork Valley; Roche leads Aspen citizens in forming the Roaring Fork Winter Sport Club, later the Aspen Ski Club (which builds a six passenger boat tow in a clearing at the bottom of Aspen Mt., built from an old mine hoist and a truck engine). (Skico, 1986)

1937—First chairlift installed in the East at Belknap, New Hampshire. (Amski 1966 p448)

1937—Dick Durrance wins first Harriman Cup race at Sun Valley. (Amski 1966 p448 )

1938—Mt. Tremblant, Quebec opens in February with the first Canadian chairlift, built by Joseph Ryan at Mt. Tremblant, Quebec. (Amski 1966 p448) (Friedl)

1938—First certification examination of ski instructors held at Woodstock, Vermont. Sepp Ruschp becomes the first certified instructor in the United States. (Amski 1966 p448 )

1938—America’s second funicular, the Skimobile, installed on Mt. Cranmore at North Conway, New Hampshire. (Ski/R 1983 p40 ) (Amski 1966 p448 ); first Aerial Tramway in the United States is installed at Cannon Mountain, Franconia, New Hampshire. (Ski/R 1983 p40 ) (Friedl) (Amski 1966 p448)

1938—First U.S. Ski Patrol established at Stowe under Minot Dole as chairman of national committee.(Amski 1966 p448) (Friedl)

1938—Chairlift opens at Alta, Utah, constructed from mining hoist parts, financed by Salt Lake businessmen.

1938—Dave McCoy sets up rope tow at Mammoth Mt., California. (Friedl)

1939—Hannes Schnieder arrives in the United States and takes over leadership of the ski school at Mt. Cranmore. Schneider also developed the first groomed slope by cutting down trees and completely clearing the south slope of Mt.Cranmore. (Amski 1966 p448)

1939—Otto Lang presents the first American theater release ski film, Ski Flight at Radio City Music Hall on the same bill with the premiere ofSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Ski/R 1983 p40)

1939—Hjalmar Hvam invents the world’s first useful release binding.(Amski 1966 p448 -7-) (Friedl)

1939—Sugar Bowl in Norden, California opened by John Wiley and Hannes Schroll. (Friedl)

1940—Alta Lodge is built by the Denver and Rio Grande; in 1941, James Laughlin buys the lift and the lodge, hires Dick Durrance as manager, lodge keeper and ski school director. (Friedl)

1940—T-bar, considered the first in America, is installed at Pico Peak, Vermont. (Ski/R 1983 p40)

1940—Second single chair in the East installed at Stowe, Vt. (Ski/R 1983 p41)

1940—Friedl Pfeifer installs three chairlifts to open Mt. Baldy at Sun Valley. (Friedl)

1941—Big Bromley opens under Fred Pabst in Vermont, with two J-bars (Friedl)

1941—Fred Willoughby leads Aspen Ski club in cutting the country’s most expert trail, Roch Run, part way up Aspen Mt. after the design drawn by Andre Roch. (Friedl)

1942—Tenth Mountain Division activated at Camp Hale, Pando, Colorado; National Ski Patrol named an official recruiting organization and Minot Dole rounds up 2000 volunteers and sends them to Pando in two months. (Friedl)

1945—Friedl Pfeifer meets with the City Council at Aspen and outlines the plan for creating a top international resort at Aspen. Later that year Pfeifer opens the Friedl Pfeifer Ski School, with partners Percy Rideout and John Litchfield as co-directors, and only instructors.(Friedl ) Paepcke meets with Friedl Pfeifer and plans begin for Aspen’s first ski lift. (Skico, 1986)

1946—Aspen Skiing Corporation formed under Walter Paepcke, replacing Pfeifer’s original Aspen Ski Company. (Amski 1966 p448 ) American Steel and Wire signs contract with Pfeifer to build #1 Chair (Friedl). Chair #1 opens, Dec. 14 (Skico 1986) Dec 15 (Ski/R 1983 p41). First lodges, bars, restaurants open: Skimore Lodge, The Alpine Inn, Crystal City Inn and the Red Onion; Aspen Ski Club holds 1946 SMRSA meet (Friedl) and the first Roch Cup in March.

1946—first Pomalift developed in Europe by Jean Pomagalski. (Amski 1966 p448)

1946—P-Tex base invented by the Swiss firm Muller and Co. (Ski/R 1983 p41) Dynamic comes out with a Cellulix base. (Her V8-1 1996)

1948 —The first national periodical, Ski magazine evolves out of merger of Ski Illustrated (the changed name of the original Ski magazine),Ski News and Western Skiing. The new magazine is published by William T. Eldred. (Amski 1966 p449 )

1948—First chairlift in Midwest built at Boyne Mountain. (Amski 1966 p449 )

1948—Gretchen Fraser becomes the first American to win Olympic ski medals – a gold in the special slalom and a silver in the Alpine combined on February 5 at the Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. (Ski/R 1983 p42) (Amski 1966 p449 )

1949—Mad River Glen, Vermont; Squaw Valley, California, both opened. (Amski 1966 p449 )

1949—Howard Head markets the aluminum Head Standard, the first commercially successful aluminum ski. (Ski/R 1983 p43)

1950—First U.S. FIS World Championships at Aspen (alpine) and Lake Placid, New York. (jumping) and Rumford, Maine (cross-country). (Amski 1966 p449 ) Feb 12-18: races at Aspen held under the direction of Dick Durrance and Dave Bradley; Pfeifer coaches the U.S. women’s team. (Friedl)

1952—First artificially-made snow is made at Grossinger’s resort in New York; Fahnestock, New York, two years later, becomes first ski area to make snow on regular basis. (Amski 1966 p449)

1952—Andrea Mead captures gold medals in slalom and giant slalom at the Winter Olympic games in Oslo. (Ski/R 1983 p44 ) This is the first Winter Olympics at which giant slalom is recognized as a separate event. (Amski 1966 p449 -7-) First women’s cross-country in Winter Olympics, Oslo, 10 km. (CompXc Dial p229)

1954—Ski Hall of Fame dedicated at Ishpeming, Michigan. (Amski 1966 p449)

1955—Henke Speed Fit buckle boots appear. (Ski/R 1983 p44 )

1957—The first useful aluminum ski poles are made by Scott. (Ski/R 1983 p46

1958—Buddy Werner becomes first American male to win a major European combined, the Lauberhorn. (Amski 1966 p449)

1958—First U.S. gondola lift installed at the Wildcat area in New Hampshire. (Amski 1966 p450)

1958—Clif Taylor, considered the inventor of Graduated Length Method (GLM) graduates his first pupil, Ann Hedges, on a pair of 100 cm skis. (Ski/R 1983 p46)

1958—Sugarbush opens in Warren, Vermont; Damon and Sarah Gadd, founders. All-day lift ticket was $5.50. (MAD 1993)

1958—Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands open on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26 making Aspen the country’s largest ski resort. (Frield ) (Skico, 1986)

1960—Eighth Olympic Winter Games at Squaw Valley, California. first alpine Games in the U.S.; Penny Pitou wins silver medals in downhill and giant slalom, and Betsy Snite wins a silver medal in slalom. France’s Jean Vuarnet wins men’s downhill on metal skis. (Amski 1966 p450)

1960—Kneissl, Sailer and Plymold market the first commercially successful fiberglass skis. (Ski/R 1983 p47)

1961—Ski Industries of America (SIA), first nationwide trade organization, opens New York City offices. (Amski1966 p450)

1961—Instructors form Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) in Whitefish, Montana, under Bill Lash. All division demonstration teams show final technical forms of skiing. (Ski/R 1983 p47) (Amski 1966 p450 )

1962—Chuck Ferries becomes first American to win a European classic gate race, the Hahnenkamm slalom. (Amski 1966 p450)

1963—First U.S. resort association, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) founded. (Amski 1966 p450)

1964—Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga become the first American men to win Olympic medals for alpine skiing, being second and third, respectively, in the slalom of the ninth Olympic Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria. Jean Saubert ties for second in the giant slalom and places third in the slalom. (Amski 1966 p450)

1964—The first Lange all plastic buckle boots are commercially available. (Ski/R 1983 p49)

1967—The first World Cup Competitions staged. Credited with the Cup’s inception are U.S. Ski Team Coach Bob Beattie, French Ski Team Coach Honore Bonnet and French journalist Serge Lang. (Ski/R 1983 p49)

1980—The 13th Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York, for second time; third time in USA. Swede Thomas Wassberg wins 15-km race by one hundreth of a second, closest ever in cross-country ski racing. (CompXc Dial p231)