China’s Stone Age Skiers and History’s Harsh Lessons

The Rōbert [Cholo] Report (pron: Rō'bear Re'por)

20CHINASKI12-superJumbo.jpgBoiling water is used to soften the wood, allowing the tips to be curved.

Tucked beneath a shallow outcropping in the rolling lowlands of the Altai Mountains, four men glide along the shadow-pocked rock face, their faint silhouettes stalking a herd of unsuspecting ibex. To their left, a fifth swoops downhill, corralling the beasts with a spear in his hand.

His pigmented frame arcs from left, to right, and back again — a ski turn that may be the oldest ever recorded.

The hunters are part of a cave painting in the northern tip of China’s Xinjiang Province, a wedge of territory that pokes up between Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan to the west. According to Chinese archaeologists, the painting dates back more than 10,000 years — 2,000 more than the next earliest ski artifact on record.

Now, as the popularity of winter sports explodes in China, driven by…

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