January 28, 2010

First ski tow in the U.S.—1934

On this date in 193
4, owners of the White Cupboard Inn in Woodstock, Vermont, installed the first ski tow in the United States.

A simple loop of rope driven by the rear wheel of a Ford Model A, the ski tow made i
t much easier for people to ski, as they didn't have to walk up a hill in order to have the fun of skiing down it! And the invention was so easy, it was soon copied all over; by 1940, there were more than 100 tow ropes in use in North America.

Actually, copying a simple but clever invention is just what the White Cupboard people, Bob and Betty Royce, did—they copied the idea from a ski run in Quebec, Canada (installed in 1933). The actual inventor of the ski tow—way back in 1908—was Germany's Robert Winterhalder.

(Don't you just love that name for the inventor of something that people HOLD onto in the WINTER?)

Nowadays, most ski slopes have some sort of ski lift—often a chair lift—that actually lifts skiers off the slope, rather than a ski tow that just pulls them up the hill. Rope tows are still somewhat common in some areas, however, especially on the gentle “bunny slopes” that children and learners use.

Did you know...?

Some ski slopes have a conveyor-belt sort of device called a “magic carpet” (pictured at right). These are usually used only on the gentlest of bunny slopes, since they are too slippery to use on steeper slopes.

The Winter Olympics start soon – on February 12th.
They are being held in
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

There are 10 Olympic sports that involve skis.

Some are alpine skiing, some are nordic skiing, and some are freestyle skiing.

Can you figure out the ten kinds, using the clues below?

1. SKI ___ U ___ ___
Clue: a nordic event that involves a tak
e-off ramp.

2. D ___ W ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Clue: an alpine event that
is super-fast!

3. S ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Clue: an alpine event that requires zig-zagging

4. B ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ O ___
Clue: there are rifles in this nordic event!

5. A ___ ___ ___ ___ L ___
Clue: a freestyle event with some diving moves

6. C ___ M B ___ ___ ___ ___
Clue: two nordic events in one

7. SKI C ___ ___ ___ ___
Clue: down a CRAZY hill with bumps and twists

(This freestyle event is like a motorcycle race.)

8. C ___ ___ ___ S - ___ ___ ___ T R ___
Clue: a nordic event with looooong

9. M ___ ___ ___ L ___
Clue: a bumpy freestyle event

10. S ___ P ___ ___ - G
Clue: an alpine event that is an extreme version of #3

ERS: 1. ski jump 2. downhill 3. slalom 4. biathlon 5. aerials 6. combined 7. ski cross 8. cross-country 9. moguls 10. super-G

Visit the
Olympic Games Website
or the Vancouver Games Website.
You could bookmark the sites for use during the Olympics!

Play Olympic Video Games!

There is ski jumping, giant slalom, short-track skating, and snowboard cross to choose from.

Color some Olympic Posters.
Scroll down to reach the Winter Games.

Where do ski words come from?

Alpine skiing.... comes from the name of a m
ountain range. (Which?)

Nordic skiing....comes from the name of a country. (Which?)

Slalom...comes from Norwegian words for “slope” and “track.”

Mogul...comes from the Norwegian word for “heap” or “mound.”

Ski...comes from the Norwegian word for “stick of wood.”

Where do you think the sport of skiing started?

That's right, in Norway. There is evidence of skis that can be dated back to 4,500 to 5,000 years ago!

Attaching long planks of wood (with upturned tips) to shoes or boots was meant to be a way to travel over the snow—a quicker and less tiring way than snowshoes. However, people soon realized the recreational use of skis as well. People who skied for sports often did so in the Alps, one of the great mountain ranges of Europe, hence the term alpine sport.

Now skis are almost entirely used recreationally. Related sports and transportation devices have borrowed its terminology (from water skis and then jet skis to the steering devices at the front of snowmobiles).

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