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Sondre Norheim, Father of Modern Skiing

Sondre Norheim

One of the many Norwegians who immigrated to the United States during the end of the 19th century, was  legendary skier and innovator Sondre Norheim of Morgedal, Telemark. Sondre is recognized worldwide as the "Father of Modern Skiing." This poor cotter from Telemark played a crucial role in transforming skiing from means of transportation into a source of enjoyment and popular sport. Using a new type of skis and bindings, Sondre introduced the Telemark style and the slalom. Ski historians credit Sondre and the rich ski environment of his home village Morgedal with having a major impact on the development of alpine skiing around the world.

In 1884, Sondre, his wife Rannei and their three children left the mountains of Telemark for the rolling hills of Minnesota and North Dakota.  Few who knew Sondre in America had any idea of his fame and critical contributions to Norway's national sport. He lived an anonymous life as a hard scrabble farmer on the Dakota prairies and died in 1897.   Norheim was not forgotten in Norway - when word of his death reached his home in Morgedal, a skiing competition was held in his memory.

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