Skis have been used for thousands of years, with evidence of skiers traversing snow going back as far as 10,000 years ago in Ancient China. Who knows what marathon skiers and pioneers were practicing and developing the form at this time? Certainly, there aren’t any record books or film footage to show us. Fast forward to the modern day however, and skiing has become a hugely popular sport around the globe. This means every piece of information – from average speed, to race wins and endurance runs – is recorded, analysed and used to improve technology and techniques for future skiers. In much the same way as the first skiers spread their innovations and ideas through their oral traditions and physical teaching, modern day skiers do the same thing – just on a much smaller timescale.
These then, are the three people considered the greatest skiers of the modern era. This diverse sport crosses a number of disciplines, and it takes a special individual to excel in all kinds of skiing – from technical slalom races to super downhill speed events.
American Bode Miller is a two-time Winter Olympics gold medallist and one of only six people to win a Ski World Cup trophy in each of the five disciplines – Super-G, downhill, slalom, giant slalom and combined. In fact, he is the only person to have won more than five victories in each category at World Championship events – as well as being the most medalled skier of all time. In 2008 Miller won the World Championship title in the men’s category, at the same time as fellow American Lindsey Vonn won the women’s medal. In fact, Miller was so successful he even split with Team USA for a few years to start up his own Team America, although the venture would fold up after just two years.
One of Sweden’s most revered sports stars, second only to tennis legend Bjorn Borg, Ingemar Stenmark has won more World Cup races (86) than any other skier – narrowly beating out Lindsey Vonn who retired at 84 wins. Stenmark began skiing at the young age of five and would win his first national competition less than three years later. Widely regarded today as the best slalom skier of all time, Stenmark became the first person to win the same World Cup event three years in a row when he picked up his third Slalom title at the 1982 event. Two years before he had also picked up two Winter Olympic Gold medals too.
Minnesota-born Lindsey Vonn is indisputably the greatest female American skier of all time, with 82 world cup victories and three Olympic medals including a Gold in 2010 – when she became the first ever American woman to win a Downhill speed event. However successful she has been, Lindsey’s potential has definitely been hampered by injuries throughout her career – forcing her early retirement in 2019. Outside of skiing, Lindsey also briefly dated Tiger Woods and has posed twice as the cover star of Sports Illustrated.