An Archaeology of Skiing

Author(s): Troy Lovata

Year: 2015


Archaeologists have explored the prehistoric development of skiing, but its study as a modern recreational activity, lifestyle, and commercial practice has generally been left to historians. Yet snow sports entail a unique material culture, are a vibrant link between past and present, and leave a visible environmental impact. Recent consolidation of ownership and demographic shifts has spurred the closure of numerous ski areas in North America. This has lead to both the abandonment of slopes and an active community who ski these areas as a link to customary and traditional snow sport and landscape use. Thus, skiing is ripe for study thru the lens of contemporary and historic archaeology.

This paper outlines an archaeology of skiing. First, it examines how recreational activities have lasting impacts on the environment. Second, it outlines the large community who continue to ski closed slopes in North America and how recreational activities have long term culture impacts and function as preservation of traditional culture. Third, it discusses preliminary archeological surveys undertaken at abandoned slopes in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado and New Mexico. These include skiing slopes as part of phenomenological approach to understanding landscape, its use, and cultural preservation.

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Cite this Record

An Archaeology of Skiing. Troy Lovata. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398238)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;