Gold was discovered in Kiandra in 1859 and there was an immediate gold rush to the area and by 1961 local newspapers such as the Monaro Mercury were reporting that miners were strapping planks to their boots with leather straps and sliding down the hill under the guidance of European immigrants. The planks were actually Norwegian snow shoes now known as skis. In the midst of a storm, a news correspondent fitted on a pair of "Snow Shoes" then travelled over three miles to take refuge in the Alpine Metropolis, he participated in the August, 1861 Kiandra snow shoe exhibition. Ref. Sydney Morning Herald, 12th August 1861.
Over the next few years the term "Kiandra Kick-in" was coined for the first ever ski, made specifically for organised downhill racing.
Kiandra snow shoe club
Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club (1861). World's First Identifiable and Ceaseless Ski Club.
This Australian club has been continuously operating since 1861. It’s origins have been recognised internationally and substantiated by the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, Norway in 2006.
“Early skiing in Kiandra also featured competition, in fact a type of competition that was far ahead of its time.”
“I would like to commend you for having organised the first Alpine ski races in the history of our sport.” International Ski Federation. 10th May 2011 Ref. []
The discovery of gold in the mountains of America and Australia was the catalyst for the development of recreational alpine skiing. The Kiandra club was able to establish its standing as the world’s first alpine ski club by meeting three requirements, (a) it could name a group of members (b) it could demonstrate organisation over a continuous period, (c) it could demonstrate participation for a common purpose. Example-snow sport.
It has been claimed that an unidentifiable ski club (unnamed and without membership names) commenced in America in 1861. Reported in the, Butte Record, Marysville, "Daily Appeal" 26th January 1861.
The "Trysil Skytte- og Skiløberforening" (Shot and Ski Practitioner Association) was also founded in Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. The association held their first competition in January 1862. 1861 Trysil newspaper report. Ref. "Kiandra-Gold Fields to Ski Fields"[]
Alpine skiing, as a sport, commenced at Kiandra thirty years before any ski club can be identified as being formed in Europe. Ski clubs were first founded in Munich, Germany 1891, Switzerland 1893, Arlberg, Austria 1901, United Kingdom 1908, followed by France and Italy.
“Kiandra Snow Shoe Club” held separate ski races for both ladies and children as early as 1885. Barbara Yan was the first identifiable woman documented as to having won a Downhill Skiing Championship. Barbara also won the ladies downhill in 1887, the year her siblings won the girls under 8 section and second in the under 12's. Ref. Manaro Mercury, Cooma & Bombala Advertiser -10th August,1887.
In 1908 the club held the first ever documented International and Intercontinental Downhill Skiing Carnival. Results- America 1st, Australia 2nd, England 3rd. Ref. The Melbourne Argus, 6th July, 1908. Australia's Longest Running Skiing Competition - The Balmain Cup.
By 1933 team racing was open to virtually all competitors from any club or imported talents but Arthur Balmain of Cooma saw how unfair this was to local enthusiasts. He donated a perpetual trophy open only to competitors residing in or about the Southern Districts and only for members who held membership for twelve weeks in the local ski-Club. Arthur Balmain, whose company transported skiers to all localities, envisaged a competition that would encompass all Clubs. He decreed that a team must compete for the Balmain Cup with all members competing in four disciplines, Downhill, Slalom, Jump and Langlauf. In 1946 the competition format for competitors eligibility was changed and the jump section was removed. History of the event. Ref. "Kiandra-Gold Fields to Ski Fields