Exploring Some of the World's Oldest Ski Resorts
Exploring Some of the World's Oldest Ski Resorts
Skiing is a sport that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Whether it's the adrenaline rush of carving down pristine slopes or the quiet serenity of gliding through a white winter landscape on cross-country skis, skiing offers something for everyone. While modern ski resorts often boast cutting-edge amenities and high-tech facilities, it's essential to remember that the sport's roots run deep. Here, we take you on a journey through time, exploring ten of the world's oldest ski resorts, plus a special mention of the Norwegian place Morgedal.
Please note that this isn't an exact or chronological list of ski resorts since it's often challenging to pinpoint the exact year when a ski destination transformed from an ordinary village with some skiing going on, into a modern ski resort with plenty of ski tourists.
Our journey begins in Morgedal, Norway, known as the cradle of skiing. This picturesque village is steeped in ski history and is the birthplace of Sondre Norheim, considered the father of modern skiing. Norheim's innovations in ski design and techniques during the mid-19th century, including the creation of the Telemark skiing style, laid the foundation for the sport we know today. It's worth noting that Morgedal is not a ski resort today, but it's where it all began (according to some at least). You can read more about Norheim and Morgedal here
St. Moritz, Switzerland
This iconic and luxurious ski resort considers itself to be the world's oldest ski destination, as it officially started with "winter tourism" in 1864. While the extent of skiing by visiting winter tourists during this period is unclear, there's no doubt that people have been skiing here for many many years. St. Moritz
hosted the Winter Olympics already in 1928 and was home to Switzerland's first ski school, opened in 1929.
Another "ancient" Norwegian ski resort is Trysil
, with skiing traditions dating back to the 17th century. This resort, actually Norway's largest, has been attracting winter enthusiasts for generations with its gentle slopes and fantastic surrounding winter landscapes. However, despite its long skiing history it didn't develop into the modern ski resort it is today until the 1950s. Trysil is also home to the world's oldest ski club, "Trysilgutten," founded in 1861.
Continuing our exploration of Norway we find Hemsedal
, a charming village that is the second biggest ski destination in this country, and it has been a favourite for winter sport enthusiasts since the 1930s. With its combination of pristine slopes and a welcoming atmosphere, Hemsedal offers a truly authentic skiing experience.
Davos, SwitzerlandDavos in Switzerland
is known for its breathtaking alpine landscapes and for being a world-class ski resort. It is one of the country's oldest ski destinations, and Davos began its transformation into a modern ski resort in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's not just a skiing paradise but also the annual host of the World Economic Forum, attracting business and political leaders from around the world.
St. Anton, AustriaAustria's St. Anton am Arlberg
, commonly known as just St. Anton, has been a winter paradise for skiers since the early 20th century when the modern ski resort we know today began to take shape. Ski Club Arlberg was established in 1901 and has 9,000 members today. This charming Tyrolean village is famous for its challenging slopes and lively après-ski scene and remains one of the world's most renowned and visited ski resorts.
Åre, SwedenSweden's Åre
is another of the world's oldest ski resorts, with origins dating back to the late 19th century, with the official year of becoming a ski resort being 1909. Its wide range of slopes and winter activities make it a popular choice for both beginners and experienced skiers, especially among Swedes, although it's also a popular skiing destination for Norwegians. Åre is the best ski resort Sweden has to offer and it has an increasing number of international visitors every year.
Montgenèvre, FranceMontgenèvre in the French Alps
holds the title of France's oldest ski resort, officially established as a ski destination in 1907. With its blend of French and Italian influences, this resort offers an enchanting blend of culture and winter sports, not to mention a rich history of French skiing.
Sun Valley, Idaho, USA
In the United States, Sun Valley in Idaho
, stands as one of the country's oldest ski resorts. Established in the 1930s, it quickly gained fame as a favourite among Hollywood stars seeking a luxurious ski vacation and remains a beloved destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts to this day.
Nestled at the base of the iconic Matterhorn mountain, Zermatt is a Swiss gem
with a rich skiing heritage. This charming alpine village has been a haven for skiers and mountaineers since the late 19th century. While mountain climbing primarily attracted tourists here in the 1800s (the village's first hotel opened in 1838), the first ski lifts began operating in Zermatt in 1928.
Our journey through the oldest ski resorts concludes in Kitzbühel, Austria
. This historic destination has enchanted winter enthusiasts since the late 19th century, with the first documented skiing done by Franz Reisch back in 1893. In 1924, the project to build a cable car up the famous Hahnenkamm mountain began. With its medieval town center, Kitzbühel offers a unique blend of tradition and exhilarating skiing experiences.
Skiing is a sport that transcends time and borders. These old ski resorts not only represent the rich history of skiing but also showcase the enduring passion for this sport over the years. Each resort has its unique charm, from Norway's mountainous landscapes to Switzerland's iconic peaks and Austria's traditional alpine villages. As you plan your next ski adventure, consider visiting one of these historic destinations and skiing in the footsteps of generations past.