Skis of Bloke

A Slovenian invention

The first report of skis used by the common people for traversing snowbound hilly country-side was made by historian, sociologist and scientist, J.V. Valvasor in his book The Glory of Duchy of Carniola, published in the 17th century.

First he mentions home-made snowshoes, which prevent a person from sinking in the soft snow. He also refers to a variant with six sharp iron spikes used for crossing frozen or rocky surfaces. He is even more impressed with an invention which he has "not seen or heard of in any other country", for sliding in winter from high mountain into the valley at high speed.
This is how he describes the skis and the activity for which they are used:

"They (the mountain men) take two wooden boards, one quarter of a 'thumb' thick, half a foot wide and about five feet long. In front the boards are turned upwards. In the middle there is a leather strap for keeping feet in place. The person steps onto the 'smuči', and takes a strong staff into his hands. This he puts under his arm and leans back into it, using it as support and as rudder, and so he slides or better flies down the steepest slopes. While standing on the boards, he leans firmly on the staff, and runs down hill so fast that he certainly goes faster than the over the ice in Holland. Every moment he is able to avoid anything that stands in his way, a tree, a rock or anything else. No hill is too steep for him, none so thickly wooded, that he would not be able to slide through in this manner. He is able to avoid anything by making his way around it like a snake. However, when the way is free and clear of any obstacle, he rushes along in a straight line, always standing straight and leaning on his staff."

There is another report of skiing written in Novice (1845) the chaplain, Jože Bevk, who describes the same activity in this area, but also mentions that women also use the skis, and often use them to attend church services.