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China invented skiing: Report
Updated: 2006-01-23 20:27

Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers in the Old Stone Age, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The paintings in Altay, in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, "have been verified as human hunting while skiing and, therefore, archaeologists prove the Altay region to be a place of skiing some 100 to 200 centuries ago," the news agency said.

Wang Bo, a noted researcher with the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Museum, said he had seen a picture of four people chasing cattle and horses, three of them on a long rectangular board with poles in their hands.

"Hence, he held these instruments are skis and ski poles," Xinhua said.

"(Experts) held that cliff paintings in Altay were the earliest archaeological evidence to show how humans had skied in the early days and suggest skiing had originated in Altay."

Many in China lay claim to a number of firsts, including the inventions of gunpowder, the printing press, golf, football and even pasta.

The Altay mountains extend approximately 1,200 miles (2,000 km) from the Gobi to the West Siberian Plain, through Chinese, Mongolian, Russian and Kazakh territory.

Skiing has become a popular pastime for China's burgeoning new middle class, with several slopes around the capital Beijing packed every winter weekend.

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