(Editor’s note: This is known as the oldest detailed written description of skiing, but few publishers acknowledge or perhaps even understand the description of climbing skins that’s included. We love it.)
“Scricfinnia is a country between Biarmia and Finmarck [Wildsnow note: at the top of Norway]; yet it hath one long corner that stretcheth southward and towards the Bothrick Sea; it is called a Tail principally, because the Inhabitants of it slide very swift, having their feet fastened to crooked pieces of wood made plain and bent like a bow in the former part, with a staff in their hands to guide them; and by these, at their pleasure they can transport themselves upward, downward, or obliquely, over the tops of snow; yet ever observing that proportion, that one of these pieces of wood shall be longer than the other a full foot, according as the men or women are in tallness: so that if a man or woman be six feet high the one piece of wood shall be just so long, and the other piece of wood shall be seven foot.
Moreover, they provide that those pieces of wood be covered beneath with the tender skin of a young fawn, the form and color whereof is like to a deer skin but it is far longer and larger [WildSnow: who knew, fawn skin makes the best?]. But why the pieces of wood are covered with these tender skins there be diverse causes given; namely that they may transport themselves the swifter over these deep snows, that they may the more nimbly avoid cliffs of rocks, and steep places with an overthwart motion [Wildsnow note: transverse, meaning a shuffling stride], that when they ascend to a place they may not fall backward: because the hair of the skin will rise like spears, or Hedg-Hog Bristles, and by an admirable power of nature hinder them from falling down.
Therefore with such instruments and the art they have to run they are wont, especially in winter, to pass over the inaccessible places of mountains and valleys; but not so easily in summer, though the snow be there, because the Wood soon sinks into them. Nor is there any rock too prominent, but they can cunningly run up to the top of it, by winding course [switchbacking?]. For first leaving the deep places of valleys, they pass over the feet of the mountains, with crooked motion round about; and they so turn to and fro, until they come to the highest parts of those winding hills; sometimes they do in the nead of hunting (WildSnow: we can relate), sometimes to try their skill and to contend for mastery therein, as those who race to win the prize.