Skiing. Graceful sport or tumbling down a mountain with planks strapped to your feet − either way there are some fascinating facts out there. For instance:
1) Some researchers believe that, due to the existence of cave-paintings that appear to show Neanderthal man with planks on his feet, skiing was invented some 4,500 years ago. In fact, a Hungarian aristo named Baron von Hauspringle originally conceived the sport in 1873. During the particularly harsh winter of that year, the Baron’s castle, sat in the high country of the Gourgonzola region became snowed in, the road along which he would normally travel by coach and horses impassable. Desperate to get to the village at the base of the valley to visit his wench, the Baron, in a fit of randy invention, strapped two servants to his feet and off he went. It’s thought the name ‘ski’ derived from the sound the servants made when they went over a patch of black ice (while the phrase ‘mogul’ meaning ‘hump’ comes from a later part of the story, when the Baron had got to the village).
2) Skiing is a well-known cause of flatulence. It is thought that the novice position of the ‘snow plough’ serves to increase the volume of gas in the body, while moving from snow plough to parallel skis acts as a kind of bellows. The condition mainly comes to light in a fall when the gas is released. Hence, the look of disgust on the faces of the crowd whenever a downhiller wipes out in the barriers.
3) In northern parts of Norway, traditional farmers still practice the ancient art of training puffins to search out fresh powder. The farmers take the eggs of puffins and hatch them at home. The young chicks are then hand-fed on a diet of shrimp, herring and perpetual re-runs of avalanches on the TV. They are trained to fly over the mountainous terrain and circle constantly over a patch of fresh snow for the skiing farmers to get to. This is the genesis of the popular Norwegian children’s book ‘Grooty, the stupid puffin’.
4) The mitten was invented to give noblemen of the nineteenth century a suitable appendage with which to challenge each other to duels while on the slopes. In those days, they were duelling each other all over the place, and holidays were no exception. With traditional leather gauntlets were good for slapping the face of a rival, they did lead to frostbite. An enterprising glove maker in Luton came up with the mitten or, as it was known at the time, the ‘face larruper.’
5) Ski bindings smell of hammers. (Random)
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