SI Vault
Mort Lund
December 12, 1960
A ski quiz to test the ingenuity and add to the knowledge of both the weekend skier and the armchair expert
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December 12, 1960

Point Of Fact

A ski quiz to test the ingenuity and add to the knowledge of both the weekend skier and the armchair expert

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? When did modern ski jumping begin?

?In 1840 a Norwegian named Sondre Nordheim made the first leap off a jump onto a steep slope. Previously jumpers landed only on fairly level surfaces.

? Where was the first ski-jump competition held?

?The first systematic jump meet took place on Huseby hill near Oslo in 1879. Earlier meets in the 1860s were haphazard affairs, with some of the races a combination of jumping and downhill running.

? Where were the first Alpine races?

?Military competitions were held in Norway as early as 1774. In the U.S., gold miners competed in races in the Sierras in the 1860s. They used 12-foot skis and reached speeds of 88 miles per hour. The sport died out, however, after the mines closed down. The first nonmilitary downhill competition in Europe was held outside Oslo in 1866. Sweden became the second European country to hold downhill races when schoolboys competed in 1877. The racers went between markers or poles and ended on a frozen lake; the winner was the boy who slid the farthest out on the ice. The first races in the Alps were held in 1893 at Styria, Austria and at Seebuck, Germany in 1896. Modern Alpine racing began with the development of control gates for setting a course by Mathias Zdarsky in 1905. However, Sir Arnold Lunn set up the first slalom race, as we know it, in 1922 at M�rren, Switzerland.

? What is the technical difference between the three modern types of racing: slalom, giant slalom and downhill?

?In the slalom, the skier usually runs � to � of a mile between 40 to 75 sets of poles, each set known as a gate. (The course has a vertical drop anywhere from 395 to 722 feet.) The skier may knock down a pole, but his boot must still pass inside the pole. If one boot passes outside, the skier is disqualified. In the giant slalom, the course is usually between one and two miles long and drops at least a quarter of a mile. There are some 30 gates, with no gate less than 13 feet wide. The skier is disqualified if one of his boots passes outside a gate but, as in all ski races, if he falls, he may recover and continue the race. The third type, the downhill race, is an all-out run, with only an occasional control gate to keep the competitors from taking short cuts or going too fast. Men's downhill courses drop half a mile and usually run from 1� to 2� miles. Most modern meets contain one race of each kind. A combined score for all three races determines the over-all winner.

? What is the longest chair lift?

?The three-stage Grindelwald-First lift in Switzerland. It runs for three miles. The vertical rise record is held by the two-section cable car that goes from Chamonix 8,176 feet up to the peak of Aiguille du Midi in France.

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