Many resorts claim to be the birthplace of skiing, including St. Moritz and St. Anton. Morgedal in Norway, has a pretty good claim too — and with skiing being a mode of transport during winter in parts of the country, I reckon it's a pretty good shout out. So, here's what they had to say on the matter.
Morgedal is the birthplace of skiing, or to be more correct, snow sport.
People have used skiing as a mode of transport for over 4000 years. However in the 1800s, downhill skiing as we know it today was influenced like never before by Sondre Norheim from Morgedal. A charismatic character who changed ski design and gave us the world's first carving ski and full heel binding. Where he lived and the terrain he grew up with inspired him to develop skis and new techniques — just for the rush of downhill skiing.
Jazz-lovers flock to New Orleans, Elvis fans congregate in Memphis, ski enthusiasts travel to the little mountain valley of Morgedal. What do they all have in common? The search for the original... Maybe it is time you took the skiers' pilgrimage to Morgedal — no flashy chairlifts, ritzy bars or designer ski wear, just the world's first slalom slopes and a valley where people have always loved to ski.
The Birthplace of Skiing
Sondre Norheim was a poor farm labourer. Born in Morgedal in 1825, in a part of Norway where in there is heavy snowfall during winter, skiing had always been an integral part of his daily life. Skis were traditionally used as the main form of transport and for hunting, collecting wood in the forests, social visits and for generally getting around on the steep, snow-covered slopes.
Sondre — a skilled craftsman and athletic figure — changed the way people saw skiing: He designed and made skis which enabled skiers to tackle the slopes in ways never seen before. He also used a new heel binding design which held the ski firmly to the foot. Skiing became playful and he demonstrated feats of skiing never seen before. Playful, charismatic and always out skiing — around him the ski culture in Morgedal developed in the 1860s, growing into a thing of legend.
It is from Morgedal that ambassadors would go out and start the world's first ski school in Oslo, before going on into America and Europe — taking their new skis and technique with them. From transport to sport, skis were now being used for the pure joy of the downhill, jumping and racing to the bottom of the snowy hills; it was the dawn of modern snow sport.
Here in Morgedal in this unassuming little valley you can rediscover this pure, original ski experience.