TOURIST SOCIETY OF NOVAKI

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The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"

In our village of Novaki, and in the Cerkljansko region, the first skis appeared only after 1920 with the arrival of the Italian army forces to this part of Slovenia. In that time, the village of Novaki was at the border between the old (pre-WW2) Yugoslavia and Italy. The Italian alpine army forces came to our region in the wintertime on skis so as to be able to patrol the hills above the village. This was the first incentive for the villagers, in particular the young ones, to take interest in skiing.

The first Novaki skis imitated the Italian military skis, which were plain and simple wooden skis with the bindings in the middle.

The "Novaki bow ski" ("Novaška Lok Smučka") came into existence as many an Italian military ski got broken in the middle, at the bindings. Italian soldiers discarded these broken skis. The Novaki people picked them up and found that the front ski part could be reused. They sawed the ski through in the middle section, where it had broken, and nailed into it a strap so as to fit the boot. As the ski was so short and the bindings were inappropriate, the ski was hard to control. In order to improve its manageability, they fitted the ski with a bow, which stabilised the front as well as the rear part of the ski and the skier could keep balance much better (tradition has it that this happened around 1925).

The idea of fitting the ski with a bow probably came from the bow used on the yoke for harnessing the oxen. The bow on the yoke was called "kamba". These bows on the yoke often got broken and in those times they were considered to be "consumer goods" and practically every farmer was able to make new ones. The bows were formed on a specific contraption or simply on the framework of the barn, where they nailed in short wooden sticks, bowing a hazel branch around them. Still nowadays, the craftsmen produce bows for the Novaki skis using similar contraptions.

Thus, new bow skis were manufactured. At first, they ware made by two professional carpenter craftsmen, and then more enthusiasts joined them. Skis were from 80 cm to a maximum of 125 cm long. They were made of beech, maple and ash wood, and the bow was mainly made of hazel wood because of its elasticity, lightweight and nice feel. An advantage of such skis was in particular in their simple bindings and easy manageability by the bow. In some cases, the skis were even more simplified by fixing old shoes on them instead of the straps.

Clothing used in those times was exactly as the clothing worn now by our demonstrators: leather boots, woollen jackets, "die Spitzhosen" for men, skirt for women, woollen socks and gloves, and head covering consisting of a scarf, a woollen cap or a hat.

The bow skis were simple to handle as the skier simply swung them on his shoulder upon use and carried them home.

We have checked the history of skiing and could not find anything similar to this original patent of the Novaki bow skis anywhere in Slovenia or Europe.

The Novaki bow skis were in regular use by the mid-1980'ies, and later, after the introduction of the more modern skis and on opening the modern Ski Centre, they practically disappeared from the slopes. A revival of the Novaki bow skis was made in 2001, when the Novaki Tourist Society was established and its members, all enthusiasts, began to produce new Novaki bow skis and use them for skiing. The first historic pair of skis, produced by the late Štefan Purgar from Dolenji Novaki, was supplemented by 4 pairs of skis, produced by Zdravko Čemažar, and within the Novaki Tourist Society, we formed the Old-Fashioned Style Skiing Section, called the "Novaki bow skier" ("Novaški Lok Smučar") in order to promote the Novaki bow skis, design new products in conjunction with the Novaki bow skis, which will be of interest to the tourists (i.e., manufacture and marketing of souvenirs, promotion of skiing, diversification of points of interest of the region). We, the Novaki bow skiers, participate in meetings, competitions of the old-timer skiers in Slovenia as well as in Europe.

It is interesting to see the young people showing great interest in the Novaki bow skiing.

There are several masters in Novaki, who are skilled in the art of manufacturing the Novaki bow skis.

JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />
JW_SIG_NAVTIP <b>The "Novaki Bow Ski" and "Novaki Bow Skiers"</b><br /><br />