This month marks the 150th anniversary of the internationally renown Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen was born October 10, 1861 near Christiana (now Oslo), Norway. His celebrity and influence well surpassed skiing. He was an arctic explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
He was also an outdoorman, skiing and skating champion. After the submission of his doctoral thesis in Zoology, he started planning a crossing Greenland expedition which never had been done. Instead of a heavy expedition, they would be only 6 with skis and sleighs. From August 15 to October 3, 1888, they traversed 450km and traveled over the icecap through crevasses, storms with temperature with extreme down to -46c and up to a maximum altitude of 2,700 meters in those 49 days.
Although he wasn’t back by the Norwegian as it was deemed a foolish expedition, Nansen became an instant national hero when he returned the following Spring. Nansen Ski Clubs started showing up across the World to North America via immigrants from Norway. After Greenland, Nansen continued to explore the Arctic. Later in life he went up to be a politician, diplomat and humanitarian where he would win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
Nansen died after a day of skiing in May 13, 1930 at the age of 69. Since 1954 the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award in given to “a person or group for outstanding service in the cause of refugees”. The people of Norway voted Nansen the Norwegian of the Millennium in 2000. Closer to home and in case there is any doubt; one of the earliest trail at Tremblant, the Nansen, was also named after this great Norwegian.
This week features two short films on the life of Fridtjof Nansen. The first one is a 4 minutes vignette that presents the man. Second video is a vignette on Nansen from Encyclopedia Project, but is in Russian. This clip has more images from his explorations.
A man of action and vision (2011) for UNHCR with NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council) and Fram and produced by Tellusworks Television.
Encyclopedia Project (2005) (in Russian)
Allen, E. John B. (1993): From Skisport To Skiing: One Hundred Years of An American Sport, 1840-1940, University of Massachusetts Press.
Arbique, Louise (1998): Mont Tremblant: La Poursuite d’un Reve, Carte Blanche.
Daniel Bertolino, Gilles Parent (1999): La Grande Aventure du Ski – épisode 1: Par moins 55 degrés du Pôle Nord au Pole Sud.
R. W. Moulton (1982): Legends of American Skiing.