Sporting Vernacular 1. Skiing

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The Independent Online
WITH THE World Alpine Championships coming to an end in Colorado yesterday, it is timely to reflect that for most people it is a common experience for the word "skid", with its connotation of being out of control, to bear a close relation to the word "ski" (with its connotation of being out of control).

And indeed, this turns out to be the case. Though 19th century British ski bums are usually credited with inventing the sport, the word itself comes, unsurprisingly, from Norway, where a "ski" was originally simply a piece of wood split from a tree trunk, then later a snow shoe. The Old Norse word was "skith", which in turn came from the Germanic word "skaith", the root from which we get the words "sheath" and "shed".

From "skith" also comes "skid", which originally signified a block of wood for stopping a wheel, later taking on the idea of a wheel slipping when it is prevented from revolving. In 1755, the Monthly Review reported that peasants were wading through the snow on "skies", and from there it was a smooth ride to Colorado.