By Tommy Schield | Feb. 18, 2016, 4:01 p.m. (ET)


LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- The Youth Olympic Games are more than a competition. It’s about providing the 1,100 athletes from 71 different countries educational opportunities used beyond the playing field. Through three Learn & Share excursions, athletes are able to experience Norway. The trips are to the Olympic Museum, Swix Wax Factory and Madshus Ski Factory, and today we took a tour of the ski factory. Here are five takeaways:

1. The Original

Madshus began making cross-country skis in 1906 when the founder, Martin Madshus, made the first pair in his barn. He continued to produce skis, and Madshus has been open ever since. It is now considered the oldest ski manufacturer in the world.

2. Never Stop Innovating

Madshus prides itself on innovation, helping revolutionize wooden skis and equipping Olympic medalists – the first coming in 1928. By 1974, Madshus began fiberglass ski production and in 2010 the company expanded to include boots and ski poles. 

3. Digital Age

Cross-country skiing is a demanding sport and even more so if you do not have the right equipment. That’s why Madshus skis are embedded with an RFID chip during the ski’s construction. With each ski having its own unique DNA, skiers are able to find the best match for them depending on their height, weight and ability level. They are also able to track workouts and ski quiver online.

4. Skis On Skis On Skis

The Madshus factory in Norway produces high-end cross-country skis for 25 countries, including the United States. The staff of 94 employees makes more than 120 models with an excess of 500 variations when including the length. A pair of skis takes under an hour to make and is done entirely in-house. In 2015, the Madshus factory produced 92,000 pairs of skis. 

5. Location, Location, Location

With Norway having arguably the best cross-country skiing terrain in the world, Madshus’ headquarters in Biri, Norway – just 30 minutes from Lillehammer – is the ideal location. The factory’s ski technicians, who are experienced cross-country skiers in their own right, frequently test prototypes in their backyards and are able to make real-time adjustments.