The Holmenkollen Ski Museum presents a frozen history of a remarkable transformation turning two waxed pieces of wood into a social phenomenon conquering a whole nation. Even though Holmenkollen itself is one of the most important winter sports Meccas on Earth, the significance of the museum exhibition by far transcends sports as such. It's not by chance that the visitors are greeted by a statue of none else but Fridtjof Nansen recognized by the popular vote as "the most famous Norwegian of the 20th century" - Nansen's presence serves a symbolic reminder that one is about to enter a SKI museum, not just a museum of the sport of skiing. Unique pictures, historic documents and other exhibits serve to reinforce that message.
When elite detachments of the Norwegian army were put on skis in 1716, the soldiers were unlikely to think about Olympics and world championships, or even personal bests. Likewise, Nansen himself was far away from Chamonix in France where the very first Winter Olympics took place in 1924 - yet, as early as 1888, he decided to pay a visit to Greenland. Five years later he started his march for the North Pole...It's easy to guess that during those and many other expeditions he traveled on skis.
While skiing as a sport isn't exactly ignored by the creators of the museum, it's partially presented from a somewhat unusual point of view. Even those who know that modern technologies play as vital a part in athletes' success as talent or hard work, might be baffled by the similarity between a ski-builder's shop and a high-tech laboratory. It turns out that the most important word in the above-given definition of skis "two waxed pieces of wood") is _waxed_. Be it wood, composite or fiberglass, a perfect fit for the weather during the race can literally make a champion. That's why waxing professional secrets are closely and jealously guarded, and the best professionals are often called "magicians" or compared to such renowned violin-makers as Guarneri, Amati and Stradivari. By analogy, Sondre Nordheim, who in 1870 designed shorter skis with curved sides facilitating turns, was nicknamed "Ski Leonardo da Vinci"