History of the Sport
The use of snowshoes dates back over an incredibly long span of human history. Archaeologists have been unable to date the origin of either skis or snowshoes, but the best evidence suggests that the first device to serve as a foot-extender for easier travel over the snow was originated in Central Asia about 4000 B.C. Thus the snowshoe/ski is one of the oldest inventions of man, ranking in importance with the wheel.
Without the snowshoe/ski, aboriginal peoples would not have been able to expand over, and occupy, the northern hemisphere. Once this important contribution to technology had been made, certain human groups began their northward migrations which eventually enabled them to move from a central point somewhere in Asia into what are now known as Scandinavia, Siberia and the Americas.
It is thought that Asia and the Americas were once joined by land at the place where the Bering Strait now separates the United States from the Soviet Union. It was then that the various predecessors of the American Indian and the Eskimo moved into the Americas. This eastward migration bridge apparently became the demarcation point between the use of snowshoes and skis for there is no good evidence that skis were ever used in North America by these aboriginal peoples, except among the Aleuts. The westward moving peoples, however, evidently favored the ski for, in the course of human history, skis became the favored means of transportation in northern Asia and Europe. Interchange between Asia and the Americas in the region of the Bering Strait evidently declined and these two human populations developed independently each with its own culture. Interestingly enough, the snowshoe became a major part of the North American cultural heritage.
Today, snowshoeing is a winter recreational pursuit of thousands of people who enjoy winter activities in the northern hemisphere countries. The sale of snowshoes is growing rapidly and many of the winter recreational venues are seeing a marked increase in trail passes for snowshoe participants. Snowshoeing is easy to learn and provides excellent low impact cardio exercise. The equipment is affordable, ultramodern, light weight and easy to use. Snowshoe racing events are growing rapidly and the participation is increasing every year.