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The Week in Germany - February 19, 2021
February 19, 2021
The history of skiing in Germany

Dear TWIG Readers,

Are you passionate about skiing or snowboarding? Well, so are Germans! In fact, Germany has more skiers than any other country in Europe, with more than 14.6 million Germans partaking in the sport. Although German ski resorts have been closed due to the pandemic, it's never a bad time to learn some history. So let's take a look at the fascinating origins of this popular winter sport.

Archeological research suggests that ski-like objects date back to 6000 BC, used primarily as tools to cross frozen wetlands and marshes in the wintertime. But recreational skiing is a much more recent activity.

In the 1700s, the Norwegian army held competitions where soldiers would learn how to shoot while skiing. Those races were the precursors to skiing as an Olympic sport. And it didn't take long for it to spread through Europe. Downhill skiing gained popularity in the 1800s and in 1924, the first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France and featured cross-country skiing.

In 1936, downhill skiing was included for the first time in the Winter Olympics, held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Soon thereafter, people began constructing chair lifts and ski resorts, which caused recreational skiing to grow in popularity - especially in the 1950s and 60s. Before then, anyone who wanted to ski had to hike up the mountain first - with their skis!

Today, Germany has about 700 ski resorts, 1,384 ski lifts and 864 miles of slopes. Many of these lie in the mountainous state of Bavaria. But other regions of Germany - including the Ore Mountains in Saxony - also have their share of winter sports destinations. Many of these have stayed closed this year due to the pandemic, but we hope everyone will be able to hit the slopes again next winter!

Nicole Glass

Webteam, German Embassy

germanyinusa (at) gmail (dot) com

 

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