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AGM and Meeting - 6th October

by Norma Green

The intriguing title of the talk presented after the AGM "Petroglyphs, Banana Boats and Parabolics" became clear as the evening progressed and Howard Craston who has impressive credentials being also an ESC coach and Charter Associate of the International Skiing History Association, managed to skilfully condense a broad subject into a potted history which was informative and enlightening.

With the aid of an overhead projector, we were shown photographs of the first known images of skiers taken from rock paintings - petroglyphs - dating approximately 4000 years ago. Moving on several millennia, around 610AD, Tang Dynasty writings mention men moving across snow on "wooden horses". Most of us are aware of the Norwegian connection, but it was interesting to hear that Norwegians started the first ever ski club in Australia at the time of the Gold Rush. It was the French, in poor health in the Haut Savoie and influenced by the excellent physical condition of the Norwegian troops, who inspired a winter games health initiative for their French troops and this led to the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

Meanwhile equipment and technique began to evolve and Sir Arnold Lunn proved to be the most influential Brit in early skiing and package holidays. In 1934 the first drag lift appeared in Davos and in 1935 the first chair lift was built by engineer Jim Curran who was inspired watching the pick up system for bananas being loaded onto banana boats.

Howard concluded his talk by showing us some pieces from his vast collection of old equipment and memorabilia, which he kindly brought along. The old equipment contrasted greatly with our strong safe boots and up-to-date parabolics. Given the time, we would all have been happy to listen to Howard for longer, so we thank him very much for providing such an enjoyable evening.