The Nordic Kicksledge

Photographs in the Norrbottens Museum´s image archive show that the kicksledge has been used in many different contexts.

Portrait of girl with kicksled (1930)Norrbottens museum

The origin of the kicksledge

The origin of the kicksledge is unclear, but it is probably a Swedish invention that has spread primarily to Norway and Finland, but also to other countries. At what time they first appeared is uncertain, but they became more commonly during the latter part of the 19th century.

Kicksled (1969-10-24)Norrbottens museum

The kicksleds have varied in appearance

Some change has taken place over time in terms of design. The factory-made kicksleds eventually got a fairly uniform appearance, while the older hand-made ones had more of a personal touch.

The oldest kicksleds lacked transverse handles

Instead, they held on to the two upright posts, which often ended with a knob at the top. It seems to be towards the end of the 1880s that the kicks begin to be manufactured with transverse handles.

This kick is said to have been used in barter

The kicksled was exchanged for a kilo of yeast and milk and it is said to have saved the business at a bakery in Älvsbyn a bit into the 20th century. The bakery could live on and developed into what is today Polarbröd - one of Sweden's leading bakeries.

Kicksled KicksledNorrbottens museum

One or more slides

Kicksleds with three or four slides and those with only one slider have also been made.

KicksledNorrbottens museum

Kicksled KicksledNorrbottens museum

Various models of junipers have existed sporadically throughout the country since the late 1880s. The type was practical to ride in deep, frozen sled tracks and has also been used as a sports tool.

Portrait of boy with kicksled (1940)Norrbottens museum

Childrens kicksleds

The fact that the kicksled was part of the children's games is evidenced by photographs in the museum's photo archive. The children probably borrowed the adults' oversized kicksleds many times, but the lucky one could get his own small kicksled.

Chlids kicksled Chlids kicksledNorrbottens museum

The museum's collection of objects includes both wooden kicksleds and steel kicksld in child size, but also accessories for children's kicksleds, such as a kicksled box for dolls and a snow plow.

Family portraitNorrbottens museum

The kicksled in all weathers

There are early examples of wheeled kicksleds and even today there are older people who prefer to put wheels on the kicksled instead of using a walker during the snow-free part of the year.

Kicksled race in Kiruna (1969-03-15)Norrbottens museum

Kicksled competition in Kiruna

Norrbotten's museum hooked on the newly awakened interest in kicksled competitions in the 1960s. In connection with a kicksled exhibition, a kicksled race was arranged on Christmas 1969. About twenty participants kicked themselves around the two-kilometer-long track.

Most drove high-speed steel kicksleds, but one of the competitors used a wooden kicksled of the old model, which turned out to be difficult to turn in the curves, but fast on the straight stretches. The old kicksled is now included in the collections.

Credits: Story


Rosander, Göran, 1969, Sparkstöttingar: kommentar till en utställning från Jämtlands läns museum, Östersund.

Rosander, Göran, 1995, Sparkstöttingar, Stockholm. 

Wrede, Anja. 2011. Sparken – en mångsidig långkörare.  Norrbotten 2011. Norrbottens hembygdsförbund, Norrbottens museum, årsbok 2011. Luleå.

Credits: All media
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