Researches working near the Arctic Circle in Norway have been astounded by two human figures on skis carved into a rock face. The carvings date from 2000 BC., confirming the dating of skis found in Swedish and Finnish marshes at 4000-5000 years old.
For thousands of years a means of travel in snowbound northern climes, the first contests were held in the 1850s. However, in the rural areas of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe where it originated this still remains a practical way of getting about in winter, which is the inspiration for competition cross-country skiing.
Skiing became a popular sport throughout Europe and North America in the 20th century, spreading to Australia and New Zealand in the 1930s, to Chile and Argentina in the 1940s, and to Japan in the 1950s. Today every country in the world where the conditions right have its enthusiasts.
Turkey is one of the latecomers to this sport, but the sport has become immensely popular. The resorts burst at the seams at weekends, and especially over new year and the two week school holiday in February. An increasing number of people who are hooked on skiing head for the nearest slopes at every opportunity. The number of resorts has multiplied rapidly over recent years in response to demand. Uludag near Bursa in northwest Turkey is the oldest and most famous of the country’s ski resorts, with snow cover for an average 178 days a year between December and May. The 11 ski slopes at 2000-2500 meters are situated within easy reach of Istanbul, so demand for accommodation on Uludag continues to rise despite the increasing number of alternative resorts around the country. A second resort planned on the mountain will offer a further 4150 beds in the future. In addition to the present 15 hotels, there are 12 camps belonging to various public sector institutions. The seven ski lifts and seven chair lifts have on the hourly capacity of approximately 10.000 people. The longest piste at Uludag is 2 kilometers in length. Numerous cafes, bars, and discotheques open 24 hours a day during the season lend Uludag the added attraction of a lively apres-ski life. The resort’s five-star hotels also offer alternative sports activities in the form of swimming pools, skating rinks and gymnasiums.
By Nedim Erinc