Snow sports are just getting starting as winter is beginning, as are the snowfalls and the opening of ski stations! But what if no snow falls? There are always dry slopes, but there is another less common, and perhaps wackier alternative: Grass Skiing!

Despite sounding quite strange, it is a developed sport with popularity in the Northern European countries of Germany, Austria although the Italians, Slovakians and Turkish have also tried their hand at this quirky sport.

If we take a glance back in time, the first news of Grass Skiing came from Austria in 1893 (although other sources say it can from France or the Czech Republic) where a type of roller ski was designed, which, however did not end up being very successful. It was in Germany however, that it all changed as the Emperor Josef was a grand supporter of the invention.

In 1956 a prototype of these skis which could ski the same pistes and hills that were skied during the snowy season was introduced in Stuttgart. This first model was not taken very seriously but the designer did not give up easily. By 1963 he had designed over 30 models due to the incredible number of modifications that were made to the skis.

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Nevertheless, making Grass Skiing popular was not going to be an easy feat. German and the rest of Central Europe were still skeptical about this new sport and in Germany they even encountered problems with the German Federation because they were not in agreement with using the term ¨ski¨. This did not discourage Grass Skiing fans, who continued to enjoy the sport regardless of the name it was give.

Due to television coverage and reports, Grass Skiing became known in the United States and Japan and from this emerged a grand fan base and in 1965 the first international competition was held in Owen Teck.

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In 1970 a committee was formed for the organization of the trials for the European Cup. Shortly after in 1976 the International Federation of Grass Skiing was formed and the first World Championships were held which were followed by those of 1981, 1983 and 1985.

After long negotiations, the International Ski Federation decided to take on Grass Skiing and organised the World Championship in Nobeyama (Japan) in 1987, Austria in 1989, Bursa (Turkey) 1991, Aciago (Italy)1993, Kalnica (Slovakia) 1995  and Muestair (Switzerland) in 1997.

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Grass ski equipment: The equipment required for grass sking is quite similar to that of alpine skiing apart from, of course the winter clothing and the skis! The ski boots are the same; the poles are practically identical although they are a touch longer due to the difference in height of the skis (Grass Skis being more elevated off the ground). It also goes without saying that it is highly recommendable to wear a helmet and it is mandatory on many grass slopes.

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All models of skis have a maximum length of 80 cm and height of 12cm. There are both wheeled grass skis and tracked grass skis which are designed to ¨slide¨ and skiers can pick up great speed on them if they are on a lush, grassy slope.

Heading home after  a great day of snowless skiing

Grass skiing is a great way to make sure your skiing skills don´t get rusty during the snowless months, to practice skiing where there are no snowy slopes and to train for Alpine skiing. It is quite odd that it has not taken off in the UK as there are endless amounts of grassy hills that would make extraordinary Grass Ski pistes. It could be in part due to skepticism or the wide availability of dry slopes, but in the end it´s just a mystery to us!