Although it started as a means of transportation, skiing¬†is also a sport that consists of attaching¬†planks to the skier's boots. These planks,¬†called "skis",¬†allow you to slide on the snow.
Skiing as a sport derived from its initial use as a vehicle. In 1850, the Norwegian, Sondre Norhein slided¬†on the slopes of his land, creating then the¬†Telemark technique. This¬†consisted of bending one knee in order to turn left or right. This change is considered by many¬†the beginning of skiing as a sport.
In the sport's early days, the skier had to climb to the top of the mountain before sliding¬†down, but in the 20th century, skiers started using cable cars to climb to the top. In the 1930's several elevation methods were introduced, from ropes tied to the skier's feet, to chairlifts, with which the skier could climb a mountain several times a day. Finally, the arrival of the artificial snow machine ensured the presence of snow, in case¬†the weather¬†did not allow to ski in natural conditions.
The development of skiing gear promoted the professionalization¬†and popularization of the sport. Original skis were made of a solid piece of wood, usually walnut tree, but since the¬†1930's, laminated woods started to take over the market. In the 50's,¬†speed and durability were improved due to the¬†useof plastic covers¬†and combined metal skis which had a plastic or wood center. These new skis became very popular.
The classic ski model developed from the¬†curved-edge design of Nordheim, from the 19th century. In 1990, parabolic skis were developed, allowing¬†novice and intermediate skiers to improve their control over the ski. This, added to a new¬†variety of waxes, greatly improved performance and made skiing a competitive sport. In 1924, skiing became an olympic sport. and in 1936, alpine skiing and feminine categories were standarized. In 1970, the Skiing World Championship was privatized and professionalized.
This is the most popular modality, and also, the easiest to learn. It does not require an excellent¬†physical condition or specialized equipment. It is practised in ski centers, which provide¬†all the services you may need, suchs as ski lifts,¬†track maintenance, lessons, and many¬†others that make skiing¬†a very accessible¬†sport.¬†
Alpine-tour skiing or randonn√©e
This¬†modality¬†combines alpinism and skiing. For practising it, you don't need ski lifts or elevation devices, since randonn√©e¬†boots and bindings¬†allow you to move both down¬†and uphill. In order to do that, you can also use sealskin (they are traditionally called that way, despite the fact that nowadays they are synthetic) under your skis to help you move upwards.
Even though this modality requires different¬†skis and¬†bindings, mixed bindings are becoming more and more popular, which allow you to practice traditional and alpine randonn√©e¬†using the same gear. Due to the settings¬†in which this sport is practised, you need¬†knowledge about mountaineering, mountain safety and orientation skills.
This kind of skiing, typical of the¬†Nordic countries, is practised mainly in flat lands with slight inclines. Its main¬†objective is to traverse long distances on snow. Both footwear and skis are different from those used for traditional and alpine skiing.
- Ski boots
- Ski goggles
When buying or renting your equipment talk to someone experienced¬†who can help you choose the gear¬†that best suits your level and needs. At first, you can rent your equipment until you are sure you like this sport and you want to continue practising it.
You must bear in mind that skiing does not only take time and willingness, but also money. Buying your own equipment¬†entails a considerable¬†investment. You must also consider transportation, accommodation, food, and your¬†lift pass, which is¬†usually¬†fairly expensive.
If you are a beginner, it is better to rent or borrow equipment until you have gained some experience. Then, if you decide¬†to keep on skiing,¬†you can buy your¬†own¬†equipment.
- Use sunscreen lotion to protect your skin.
- Respect¬†the signals and track boundaries.
- Remember that the skiers¬†ahead of you¬†cannot see you. Therefore, it is your responsibility to avoid an accident.
- Keep a speed that suits¬†your skills, and never stop in¬†the middle of the track.
- Ski only on slopes that¬†suit your level.
- If you ski outside the tracks, you are doing it¬†under your own responsibility.
- Get instructions about mointain safety, avalanches, and other dangers threats¬†may find in the alpine environment.
Do not litter, especially under the snow. When the snow melts, the garbage obviously reappears. If you find garbage and can dispose of it properly, the mountain will thank you.
Ski & Snowboard Federation of Chile
Avda. Vicu√Īa Mackenna 40, Santiago. Phone number: (56-2) 2228733 y 6659369.
Driving in the Mountain Handbook, Nacional Comitee of Transit Security.
Author: Guy Wenborne y Macarena Valdivia. 2005, 176 p√°ges, Spanish-English.
El Esqu√≠ en Chile Gu√≠a 2009 - Ski in Chile Guide 2009
Author: Sergio Paz. 2009, Spanish-English.