What Country Invented Skiing?

Bob McNeil Jr

April 10, 2023


Skiing is a fun winter activity that many people enjoy. It is also an essential activity for people living in colder countries.

The first skis were used over 5,000 years ago to transport people across snowy slopes. Some early skis were short and broad like snowshoes, while others were longer and narrower.


Skiing was invented 10,000 years ago in the Altai Mountains in northwest China, where Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia come together. Travel writer Mark Jenkins, whose recent exploration of the area is documented in the December issue of National Geographic, found that the region was a natural place for a prehistoric sport.

Although Chinese skiers have never won a World Cup race, skiing has exploded in China in the past decade. The country now has 568 ski areas and 12.5 million visits a year, according to the FIS, skiing’s international governing body.

An economic boom largely drives the explosion of Chinese skiing. Since Beijing won the Olympics in 2008, many multibillion-dollar ski resorts have sprouted in record time.

It’s all part of the country’s so-called “Happiness Ice-Snow Dream” — an ambitious plan to turn China into a skiing powerhouse. To achieve it, the government has fired its economic rocket boosters in a big way.


Norwegians have been skiing for centuries – first as means of transportation, then as a sport. During the 19th century, students and emigrants brought skiing to Europe and the United States.

The word “ski” comes from the Old Norse “skid,” a split length of wood. Early hints of skis were found on rock carvings in Norway and Sweden.

A 4,500-year-old stone carving at Rodoy, a Norwegian island, depicted a man on long runners with a hunting implement. Other ancient skis are dated to the Neolithic and Mesolithic periods.

Nordic peoples developed the sport for hunting and military manoeuvres. Among the Sami or Lapps, peoples of Norway, Finland and Sweden, skiing was renowned in literature as early as 350 BCE, with legends about Ullr, the winter god, and his skiing skills.

The sport became popular in the late 19th century, and non-military competitions began. Sondre Norheim is often credited with the invention of Telemark skiing, a form of freestyle skiing that is very popular today in Norway.


Skiing has been a fundamental part of Finnish culture since the ancient ice age. Cross-country skiing is a popular pastime for locals, and it’s an essential survival skill in the snowy winters.

The first skis were probably made around 6000 BC, evidenced by a 5,000-year-old rock carving found in Rodoy, Norway and fragments discovered in Russia. Historians are not entirely sure where skiing originated, but it appears to have been an important part of prehistoric life in northern Europe and China.

Skiing was also used in Finland, where it was incorporated into the country’s military as an essential survival tool. In 1939, during the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, the Finnish army fought successfully against a Russian flanking manoeuvre using ski troops.


Skiing has long been a popular sport worldwide. It was first developed as a tool for farming in Scandinavia, but soon it became a sport and recreational activity.

In the past, skiing was used for both scouting and training by military troops around the world. It was also used for hunting and trapping.

The Sami, the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia, is often credited with inventing and using the first skis. The Sami used skis for hunting in the snow and ice and travelling between villages.

Archaeologists have unearthed many ancient artefacts that indicate ski use. The oldest set of skis is dated to 8000-6000 BCE, and rock paintings show men on skis dating back even further than that.