According to popular opinion, Ullr is the Norse god of skiing, bow hunting, agriculture and one-on-one combat. Some sources claim he’s the inspiration for Santa Claus. Without a recorded myth, information about this god is pretty scant. But that hasn’t stopped the skiing world from conscripting him.
Skiers love Ullr and have attributed much to this god, even though the evidence isn’t quite there to back it up. Most specifically, he’s been called the god of snow, which, when you think about it, isn’t that big of a stretch.
Mythologically speaking, Ullr was the son of Sif and stepson of Thor (the god of thunder). He may have been the son of Egill, the archer, which makes sense with the bow and all.
He married Skaadi, the goddess of winter, which, as a skier, was a really brilliant move. Just that move alone makes him a worthy candidate for all the adoration he receives from the ski industry.
Back in 2000, I mounted an Ullr For President campaign, but unfortunately we all know how that election turned out. He’s been around forever, but he seems to be gathering more followers every day: Ullr has a facebook page; every year Breckenridge hosts a huge Ullr Fest to celebrate winter; there’s even a liqueur named in his honor, Ullr Nordic Libation. Recipes include the Pow Pow and the Hot Spank, and their website claims, “He is who you pray to for snow when the mountains are bare and pay homage to with libation at the end of a day on the mountain.”
My stepson recently tattooed Ullr onto his shoulder, and I wear an Ullr pendant around my neck, especially during the early winter months when I’m really praying for snow.
If Ullr were alive today, I think he’d be a ski bum like this guy. Or perhaps, he’d be a pro skier, someone like Eric Hjorliefson or JT Holmes or maybe someone as humble as he was awesome like Arne Backstrom (RIP). Either way, Ullr would ski upwards of 150 days a season. He’d probably live in a snow cave or maybe a van in the parking lot. Every night, he’d have a powwow with his wife, Skaadi, and they’d decide how much snow would fall by morning. Some days would be just a little light fluff over groomed, making for some nice boot-top pow. Other days they’d conjure up a big storm, the kind other skiers beseach him with prayers over. He’d make it fall in big flakes that swoosh when his skis sliced through it the next day. Ullr and Skaadi would ski together those days, lapping up the glory of snow and skiing and a match made in Norse heaven. Only when he had to run to town for groceries and mead would it stop snowing. Those days would be bluebird.