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Vintage 1929 Cross Country Ski

The other day my friend Neal decided to show me the vintage 1929 Cross Country ski that somebody else in his family had recently found buried away in a garage or attic somewhere.  Apparently, half of the ski had been broken off to be used as firewood, but the distinctive tip with its tin base and its wire repair work was enough to identify the ski for Neal.

You see, this was his father's ski, and Neal had, on numerous occasions, heard the story of how his dad had repaired his ski with a piece of wire when the tip broke.

As Neal told me the stories he'd heard about this little piece of history, it was neat to come to understand just how intrinsic cross-country skiing is to people of this region, and what a heritage of skiing we all share.

You see, back in 1929, you didn't go down to Hoigaard's to buy your equipment.  In fact, the legend is that Neal's dad carved this ski himself when he was about 10 and used it along with its partner to get to school every morning.  As near as anyone can guess, they used to travel "old school" back then and only use one ski pole instead of two.  Apparently the ski had been damaged in a crash, so what you're looking at in the above image is the expert repair work of a 10 year old kid who didn't feel like going through the trouble of carving himself a new ski.

Another story Neal told was that the boys skied to school every day, but the girls preferred to walk.  Well, as you can guess, it took only a few trips to school for the boys to lay down a pretty nice set of tracks that would harden and become much more effective as the year went on.  They had a problem, however, in that the girls tended to like to walk down the middle of the tracks.  To a non-skier this makes perfect sense since walking on any kind of path is better than breaking trail for yourself.  But as you can probably imagine, the skiers took none too kindly to the girls destroying their track.  By the end of the year, they'd finally convinced the girl to break their own trail, so the spring thaw found two parallel paths through the wood, one a foot path and one a ski trail for 10 year old boys.

The last thing Neal mentioned is something that probably should resonate for all of us.  On the day before the Birkie, we are probably all guilty of hoisting up our 10 ounce pieces of carbon fiber miracles with their $100 wax job and wishing that we could just have something strapped to our feet that would go just a little bit faster.  Well, the next time you feel like that, just try to remember that vintage 1929 ski with the tin bottom and the wire repair job and just consider what it might be like to try to complete a Birkie on that.

It's a shame the other half got burned up in the wood stove, but somehow I think the practical people that would make an item such as this would understand the necessity of staying warm.


  1. If you go to and type in "ski" in the search box you'll get a few hundred hits.

    Like this one of the Albert Lea ski club.

  2. 'twas better before, when they used two skis of different length.

    Ski - the one which was used to glide one
    Andur - the "kick"-ski

    Add one stout pole of a dead tree, man long and quite thick and you could travel in style for up to 200 years ago since the dawn of times..

  3. Fun stuff! Yup, that ski in the picture was my Grandpa's ski. I various versions of stories about the adventures he and his class mates would have skiing to school and around the region.

    These were some tough kids. He lived about 4 miles as the crow flies away from his school. Can you imagine skiing 8 miles per day as a child on those skis - on UNGROOMED trails?

    Here's to you Grandpa!

    I've got nothing on them...