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Setting First Tracks, by Arvid Møller

Book Review

Fri, Jan  26, 2007 - By Mark Waechter

In the mail this week, I received a beautiful hard-bound copy of the book "Setting First Tracks".    It's the big centennial book from Madshus;  a coffee-table book packed with ski history, and tons of old ski pictures and race pictures.   It’s heavy on Madshus history, of course, but any lover of cross country skiing – the culture, the history, the personalities and competitors – will find the book fascinating.    The book was written by Arvid Møller, but I’ve been told that Lars Hanstad of Madshus was particularly instrumental in getting the book compiled, completed, and published.

The memorable cover photo shows Madshus superstar Thomas Alsgaard winning the 30K Mass Start Classic race at the 2003 World Championships in Val di Fiemme.

The cover shows the lunge of Thomas Alsgaard.

The first several chapters of the book, which fills nearly 300 pages, describe the history of the Madshus ski company beginning with its tenuous start by apprentice organ maker Martin Madshus in Vardal, Norway.   The history is interspersed with ski photos, old advertisements, news clippings, and pictures of preserved old skis.  

The chapters trace the history of the sport from antiquity, through the age of wooden skis, the advent of fiberglass skis and UHMW bases, advances in manufacturing processes, and a look to the future.  There are sections describing the changes in the ski market including the mergers and acquisitions that led Madshus to its current position.   It’s not all just old news, as the book covers recent ski culture - all the way through the recent Olympic games in Torino.

The final 75 pages are filled with facts and figures for the trivia nut – placings for the world championships, Olympic games, and Norwegian championships for Cross Country, Biathlon, and Nordic Combined.

Even if you don’t read anything more than the captions on the hundreds of photos, the time spent perusing the big book will be a joy.  

While the book is especially appealing to fans of Madshus, and certainly you won’t see many shots of Fischer skis or Atomics, anyone who lives and breathes skiing will find it this book a mouth-watering temptation.

I did some checking around, and was unable to find the book offered through, but the Madshus website says it’s available for 350 Norwegian Kroner (about $55 USD).   It seems that it might be difficult to find for awhile – unlikely to be found on the shelves of your local shopping mall bookseller.

Note:   The book Setting First Tracks, was sent from friends at K2/Madshus to me at Nordic Ultratune.   They did not ask me to write a review, or to promote the book in any way, it was just a gift – a nice gift.   It's a treasure trove of info - it'll keep me busy for a while. 

The reviewer, Mark Waechter, is the owner of Nordic Ultratune ( ), specializing in Tazzari Stone Grinding for cross country skis.