Friday, February 10, 2006

On skiing

There's something faintly ridiculous about sticking two planks of pretend wood to your feet and sliding down hill without falling over and spilling your drink.

I've just discovered several things. One of these things is that there are two types of skiing. There's Nordic, which is crosscountry skiing on essentially flat terrain. And there's Alpine which is the down hill bit. The story goes that Nordic skiing was "the" done thing. Popularisation of Alpine skiing was the responsibility of an English man, Arnold Lunn. Here's an extract from the tale:
Before Lunn arrived, the Nordic countries preferred to do their skiing horizontal and the Nordic Games amounted to cross-country and then some more cross-country. They did not take kindly to Lunn's tinkering. 'One Norwegian complained to Arnold saying how would you like it if an eskimo changed the rules of cricket,' says Hussey. 'And Arnold replied he would be delighted by such an intervention because there were far too many drawn matches at cricket, don't you think?'

'It's now accepted as so obvious that the thing to do is ski downhill that people find it difficult to think there was ever opposition,' says his 91-year-old son, Peter, speaking from the Swiss ski resort of Murren, which his grandfather founded. 'But they used to say that downhill was for people too cowardly to jump and too feeble to do cross-country.' In reality, they soon found out that moving from the horizontal to the near vertical was fraught with difficulty.
This is to point to the exercise in pointlessness that is the Winter Olympics. You know, that thing that's all over the BBC at the moment.

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