Ski History

The History of Skiing

Although the sport of skiing as we know it is little more than a century old, ethnologists have dated rock carving of a skier on the Norwegian island of Rodoy as being over 4,000 years old. Skiing was such an important way of life in Scandinavia that the Vikings worshipped Ull and Skade, the god goddess of skiing. In the US, skiing as a sport was popularized by gold miners who originally came from Norway and organized races in their frontier camps and towns. Alpine Skiing consists of four events: downhill, super giant slalom, giant slalom and slalom.

Slalom challenges skiers to combine maximum speed with maximum maneuverability. Competitors speed down a twisting course with a vertical drop of 180-220 meters for men and 130-180 meters for women. The length of the slalom course at Fortune, a local hill where I race, is a 165 meters. The course is marked by single gates instead of double panel gates like in all the other events. The fastest combined time of two runs wins the race.

Giant slalom racers ski down a longer course with a greater vertical drop (250-500 meters for men and 300-450 meters for women). The fastest combined time of two runs wins the event. Giant slalom is often refered to as "GS." A GS course is usually around 40-60 seconds long per run.

Super giant slalom is a combination of giant slalom and downhill. The length is less than a downhill but more than a giant slalom and the times are about 1.5 minutes. The speeds are more controlled in this event. This is a one-heat event. Men and women race separately. Super giant slalom is sometimes refereed to as "Super-G." The fastest time wins the event.

At the World Cup level downhillers race on a course approximately 30 meters wide and 1.5 to 2 miles long. The times for World Cup downhills are around 2 minutes long. It is a one-heat event, and is won with the fastest time. Racers have been clocked at Whiteface Mountain at over 80 miles per hour. Men and women race separately.

There have been many changes since the was first formed in 1910. The Club originally focused on jumping. The first primitive jump tower was built at 'Suicide Hill', Rockcliffe Park. The Club's activities were suspended during World War I and in 1919 the OSC was reorganized and incorporated. Cross-country racing predominated for more than a decade after the Club's reorganization.1920 marked the acquisition of Camp Fortune. Trails were cut, lodges were built and the grew in numbers becoming the largest ski club in the world with a membership of over 10,000. The focus of the OSC moved towards the alpine events.

The ski area has seen major changes in management over the years. John Clifford became area manager in 1953, opening many new trails and developing the Skyline and Meech areas. Unfortunately, later under the management of John Graham, the went bankrupt. The National Capital Commission purchased Camp Fortune in 1991 and the area was managed for three years by Jeff White. The Fortune Ski Club was formed in 1991 to carry on the competitive programs at Fortune. In 1994, the Sudermans took over long term management of Ski Fortune and the area has seen a major revitalization and a return of many skiers.

Ski racing has been a tradition at Fortune. Herbert Marshall,in his book 'History of the' states 'The measure of the competitive standing of the OSC is found in the record of its achievements in divisional, national and international competitions.'

In 1951 the Midget program started with volunteer instructors. Children 6 to 12 participated and a racing schedule was a prominent part of the program. The Mini Midget program was for 4 and 5 year old children. It was a 10 week course of 1 hr. sessions. The Midget ski school provided free instruction for 8 consecutive Saturdays. The children were divided into an A and B class with those attaining A class participating in the slalom and giant slalom events. The Nordic (jumping and cross-country) events were open to all competitors.

In 1961 the scope of the midget program enlarged to include a school for instructors which was made available to all clubs in the Gatineau Ski Zone. This school gave technical advise and assistance in the formation of new schools such as those at Vorlage and Edelweiss. The objective was that each Club should assume the cost of operating its Midget school in order to ensure free instruction and training for children.

In 1969, the chief instructor for the Midget School at Camp Fortune, Roland Beaudry, reported attendance as high as 716 with an average attendance for 8 lessons of 604. The number of instructors averaged 68.

Another important development was the introduction of a new juvenile program. Experience had shown that the better midgets needed more challenging courses. The Juvenile division was started by John Fripp for children 13-15 and Dr. Bruce Lang was a major force in its organization.

Herbert Marshall remarks 'One very noticeable result of the Midget Program was a great increase in what has been called Family Skiing. The eagerness of children to learn to ski and attend classes has brought the parents with them. Some former enthusiasts took up the sport again and many took it up for the first time. The very wholesome development of family skiing is now an outstanding feature of activities at Camp Fortune.'

The continued success of this program is due to the many members of the OSC and later the FSC who have contributed voluntary assistance.

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