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Skiing is a recreational activity and competitive sport in which the participant attaches skis to boots or shoes on the feet and uses them to travel on top of snow. Aside from recreation and competition, skiing has been used for military purposes and travelling in areas that experience heavy snowfall. Until about 1860 skiing was primarily used for practical transport purposes in snow-rich areas, from around 1860 skiing for recreation, exercise and competition was introduced. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and the International Ski Federation.
The oldest and most accurately documented evidence of skiing origins is found in modern day Norway and Sweden. The earliest primitive carvings circa 5000 B.C. depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway. The first primitive ski was found in a peat bog in Hoting, Sweden which dates back to 4500 or 2500 B.C. Joel Berglund reported in 2004 the discovery of a primitive ski, or "85cm long piece of wood", carbon tested by researchers in 1997 while excavating a Norse settlement near Nanortalik, Greenland. The primitive ski dated back to 1010, and is thought to be Greenland's oldest ski brought by Norsemen circa 980 A.D.
The first Australian recreational ski club was formed in 1861 at Kiandra, where the first documented international downhill carnival was also held. Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century. The first public skiing competition ("betting race") was held in Tromsø, Norway on March 19, 1843. It was also the first skiing competition reported in a newspaper.
Also called downhill skiing, alpine skiing typically takes place at a ski resort or dry slope. It originated in the European Alps, and is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Sub-genres of alpine skiing include:
In alpine skiing, for every 1000 people skiing in a day, on average between two and four will require medical attention. Knee injuries account for 33 percent of injuries. Most accidents are the result of user error leading to an isolated fall.
Cross-country or backcountry skiing is the oldest form of skiing and was developed in Scandinavia as a way of traveling over snow. It uses free-heel bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Various specialties of competitive or recreational skiing developed from this basic style, sub-genres of Nordic skiing include:
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