Sondre Norheim: Inspiration, Dreams, Challenges

It’s hard to figure out exactly where the legend and the facts merge and diverge when it comes to Sondre Norheim. He is generally credited with innovations — like side-cut and willow heel straps for bindings — that helped propel the nascent recreational pursuit of skiing even further into the consciousness and culture of Norway.

I have no idea exactly what was involved in a ski competition or exhibition in 1868 but, as a 42 year-old tenant farmer from his own hinterland, he seems to have blown people’s minds in the big city with his grace and style. He is revered by many modern day freeheelers, but he should be celebrated by anyone who is thrilled by the feeling of skis turning on snow, as his creations in the shop and on the hill lead to further developments in design and technique that we enjoy today.

This video isn’t necessarily made for a skiing audience, making it all the more powerful, in my opinion. It speaks not only to his skiing passion, but to the powerful lure, and harsh reality of the American dream.

3 comments on “Sondre Norheim: Inspiration, Dreams, Challenges

  1. This video was sent to me by one of my favorite NY Ski Forum lurkers. He’d been watching our thread on skiing families and felt this video was relevant to the conversation. I asked him to give me his insight on piece, and what he sent me was the articulate, thoughtful commentary above. Thanks witch hobble.

  2. I mostly use my ski poles, but I’ve been known to lurk from time to time.

    I randomly came across this video a couple of weeks ago, and thought it could use a few more views so I passed it along to Harv. I thought it was relevant to several of the forum threads here.

    Choices about if, when, and where to move a family are always going to be tough.

    It seems very odd that “The Father of Modern Skiing” would die in obscurity in the Great Plains, of all places. Here is a guy who, if we accept legend as fact, is pretty much responsible for an entire sport?, turn?, culture?, lifestyle? taking the name of the mountain region that he was from. If anybody should have comfortable sense of self and place you would think it would be him. But that is an easy view for me to take from the comfortable distance of more than a century, with the knowledge of much of the history that connects me and countless others to him.

    But it is hard to discount the desire to own your own piece of the world, and feel like you are controlling your own destiny. It makes me wonder if he knew the topography of the region he was moving to or not. Or whether farming, homesteading, family and religion really kept his mind off of skiing. I’m sure life wasn’t easy.

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