The primitive ski dated back to 1010, and is thought to be Greenland’s oldest ski brought by Norsemen circa 980 A.D.
Other accounts of early Nordic skiing are found with two modern cross-country endurance races in Norway and Sweden. These ski races were inspired by famous historic accounts of early medieval skiing in their respective countries.
The oldest account involves the famous story from 1206 A.D. of the Birkebeiners during a civil war in medieval Norway. Considered the underdog, the Birkebeiners were at war against a rival faction known as the baglers. Following the death of the Birkebeiner chief, the baglers feared a rival in his young son Håkon Håkonsson. To protect him, two of the most skillful Birkebeiner skiers, with toddler in tow, skied through treacherous conditions over the mountains from around Lillehammer to safety in Østerdalen valley.
Since 1932, Norway’s annual Birkebeinerrennet runs a 54 km (34 mi) cross-country ski race that pays tribute to this historic account.
image: Knud Bergslien: Birkebeinerne takes Haakon Haakonson as a child toTrondheim
© Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum
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