BEIJING, Jan. 25 -- Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers as early as the Stone Age, Xinhua said Monday.
The paintings in Altay, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, "have been verified as humans hunting while skiing and, therefore, archaeologists can 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 Uygur 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."
The Altay mountains extend approximately 2,000 km from the Gobi to the West Siberian Plain, through Chinese, Mongolian, Russian and Kazakh territories.
Skiing has become a popular pastime for China's burgeoning new middle class, with several slopes around the capital, Beijing, packed every winter weekend.
China has claimed a number of firsts, including the inventions of gunpowder, the printing press, golf, football and even pasta.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily/Agencies)