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Frank Harper - Skiing for the Millions

Chapter 1 - Skiing in War

p. 3: The gisl was a stick used to help a skier glide faster. It doubled as a weapon. In the old Norwegian language a long plank of wood, split from a log, was called skida, and the word ski is a clipped form of it. A single ski covered with an animal skin for pushing was called an andoor.

p. 6: The author describes the battle of Suomussalmi in the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 from the viewpoint of Niemi (first name not given), a Finnish cross-country skiing champion. The Finns had no more than a thousand men and no artillery against eighteen thousand men of the Red Army's 163rd division. Using guerilla tactics devised by King Gustavus Vasa in 1555, the Finns wiped out the 163rd division. Niemi was killed in subsequent fighting after the Russians sent in another division.

p. 11: The Russian generals, Timoshenko, Zhukov and Meretskov, learned from the Finnish campaign and overhauled their approach to winter warfare, training hundreds of thousands of ski troops. Starting in December 1941 they went into action against the German Army that had pushed eastward to the Leningrad-Moscow-Rostov line. By the end of winter the Germans had lost 1,200,000 men, 3,000 tanks, and 3,000 fieldpieces.

p. 14: The author briefly describes the birth of the U.S Army's 87th Infantry Mountain Regiment at Fort Lewis, the role of Charles Minot Dole and John E.P. Morgan and others, the training of the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, and their deployment in Italy. The chapter closes with the commendations given to the division in early March 1945 by generals in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations.

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