The new Olympic Channel brings you news, highlights, exclusive behind the scenes, live events and original programming, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Skiing can be traced to prehistoric times by the discovery of varying sizes and shapes of wooden planks preserved in peat bogs in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Ski fragments discovered in Russia have been carbon-dated back to circa 8000-7000 BC. It is virtually certain that a form of skiing has been an integral part of life in colder countries for thousands of years.
Skiing changed its from a method of transportation into a sporting activity during the late 19th century. The first non-military skiing competitions are reported to have been held in the 1840s in northern and central Norway. The first national skiing competition in Norway, held in the capital Christiania (now Oslo) and won by Sondre Norheim, in 1868, is regarded as the beginning of a new era of skiing enthusiasm. A few decades later, the sport spread to the remainder of Europe and to the US, where miners held skiing competitions to entertain themselves during the winter. The first slalom competition was organised by Sir Arnold Lunn in 1922 in Mürren, Switzerland.
Men’s and women’s alpine skiing both debuted on the Olympic programme in 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The only event that year was a combined competition of both downhill and slalom. In 1948, this was held along with separate downhill and slalom races. Four years later the giant slalom was added and in 1988 the super giant slalom became a fourth separate event.
On the slopes of Mount Eniwa on 7 February 1972, Bernhard Russi won the downhill skiing gold at the Olympic Winter Games. This success represented the pinnacle of the career of a man who subsequently went on to design every Olympic downhill course since 1988. As part of our Words of Olympians series, the Swiss Alpine skiing legend takes us back 42 years to relive the one minute and 51 seconds of his triumphant run in Sapporo.
Tomba made a sensational Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, winning both the giant slalom and the slalom. Four years later at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games, he successfully defended his giant slalom title to become the first Alpine skier in Olympic history to win the same event twice. He also claimed silver in the slalom.