Two planks and a passion book
Reflections - Critical Role - Campaign 2, Episode 68
Two Planks and a Passion and Turquoise: Travel books
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When, in , Amundsen became the first man to raise a flag over the South Pole, one might have expected him to celebrate, or at least express quiet satisfaction at beating Scott's British team. Instead, his first reflections were that "the skiing has been partly good, partly bad". As Roland Huntford reminds us in a history of skiing full of intriguing surprises, his team saw themselves not as explorers, but as skiers. We are used to the commonplaces about why Amundsen beat Scott: that the Norwegians preferred huskies to ponies, took a better route, and were better led — this last an idea introduced by Huntford in his iconoclastic and influential biography of Scott. The idea that they got there first because they were better at skiing the British apparently had a "defective technique" is a further humiliation, particularly now that as a nation we quite fancy ourselves on the slopes.
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Prehistoric remains and rock drawings in Norway and Russia suggest skiing was used to hunt, and the earliest skis and snowshoes revolutionised prehistoric northern communities, opening up country impassable on foot. The oldest known ski, the Kalvtrask, is 5, years old and comes from northern Sweden. Placing skiing within its historical, social and political context, this is a compelling account, and definitive history, of an activity that has evolved over time into one of our most thriving leisure industries. He needed good sliding, preferably without any slip on the kick-off, to overtake his prey. He had to deal with the complexity of snow; almost a fourth state of matter.