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Most important innovation in skiing - Page 2

Poll Results: Which of the following do you consider the most important innovation in skiing? Please explain your answer in your post.

 
  • 0% (0)
    Ski poles
  • 8% (5)
    Releasable bindings
  • 0% (0)
    Carbon fibers
  • 12% (7)
    Metal edges
  • 1% (1)
    Gore-tex
  • 8% (5)
    Buckle boots
  • 3% (2)
    Stretch pants
  • 0% (0)
    Slalom racing
  • 3% (2)
    Parallel turns
  • 1% (1)
    Rocker technology
  • 5% (3)
    Parabolic shapes
  • 0% (0)
    Freestyle skiing
  • 1% (1)
    Custom bootfitting
  • 0% (0)
    Pipes and parks
  • 41% (23)
    Chairlifts and other uphill transport
  • 1% (1)
    Grooming
  • 0% (0)
    Ski Patrol
  • 5% (3)
    10th Mountain Division
  • 1% (1)
    Helmets
  • 1% (1)
    Snowmaking
56 Total Votes  
post #31 of 55

...

post #32 of 55

The automobile and 'personal' transport infrastructure (roads, highways, snow removal). Last century, but there wouldn't be skiing as we know it without. This century will be all about efficiency and the continued refinement of many things listed above. This century is pretty young. I'd argue that the biggest 'refinements' to date have been in ski technology, and AT equipment.

post #33 of 55

Transportation, first I'd say trains then rope tows (uphill transportation) then highways and automobiles then affordable air fare.  

post #34 of 55

For me..Epicski. I wouldn't be where i am if it wasn't for Epic. 

post #35 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Yes, I must have missed that. Anyone have some examples? Pictures?

henke-downhill-ski-bootsvintage-poster-5744-fin.jpg?max=540

post #36 of 55

I'd go with Plastic Boots only for Lange being from Iowa but ... for me, Credit Cards .. can't seem to afford skiing without one to spread out the cost when having a family.   My second would be (now i'm kissing ***) instructors, with little natural skill, man, the payback is worth it!   (of course, the Helmet was required)

post #37 of 55

The Telemark turn of course, which allowed skiers for the first time to descend hills with control of speed and direction.

post #38 of 55

OK, I finally voted for the 10th Mountain division. After WW 2 these vets build the industry we know today and made skiing a sport accessible to the people.

post #39 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

henke-downhill-ski-bootsvintage-poster-5744-fin.jpg?max=540

 

Yep, that's what my first boots were like, though I think they were Koflachs like these:

 

boots-buckle-koflach-2.jpg?1319480969

post #40 of 55

My last two leather boots before my first pair of  Langes were both Molitors. The first pair: beautiful craftsmanship, boiled wool and calf's leather lace up inner boots, outer shell of the thickest cowhide I've ever seen, I can't imagine how they got a stitching needle through the stuff. Reputedly they were all hand made because machines were incapable of stitching such thick hard leather. Stiff, the big question was how  to break them in so that they would fit your feet. Some said you had to beat them with a baseball bat, others said you should shower with them on and allow them to dry around your feet. I opted for just wearing them and reefing down on the nylon cord laces. Once they were broken in the fit was like nothing I've skied in since. 

 

The second pair were made of thinner leather but with an inner layer of something extremely hard, steel someone said. I never cut them open to find out but they felt like molded steel. Rap on them and it was like steel that was encased in leather. The impression was that they were probably literally bullet proof. These also had boiled wool and calf's leather lace up inner boots and canted soles of multiple layers of thick leather. The big difference with these was that instead of laces the outer shells had buckles attached to steel cables that really allowed you to reef down for an amazingly close fit. The boots actually provided pretty good support. Most people used 7 foot long straps of leather called "longthongs". These were attached to d-rings on the turntable binding heel pieces and wrapped tightly around the boots in an intricate pattern and buckled down. The combination provided very good close fit and decent lateral support. You felt your boots, and your feet, were almost part of the skis. This was even more the case with certain people who elected to combine their turntable heel pieces with non-releasable "bear trap" toe pieces. Your feet felt they were almost nailed to the skis. These were totally non-releasable.

 

The biggest difference with the plastic boots that followed has been that they are higher. The ankle movements (pronation and supination?) that were almost a skill set in their own right are much less required in these newer boots. Also the act of balancing is aided to a large degree in modern ski boots. This has been a mixed blessing. Many more people can ski relatively well without the exquisite sense of balance required of the older boots but, on the other hand, people tend to balance against their equipment and many if not most skiers are in the back seat much of the time. 

 

Did plastic boots revolutionize skiing in some profound way? No, like many of the innovations in skiing since they have allowed more people to achieve a relatively higher level of proficiency and ski a wider range of terrain with a modicum of control.  Plastic boots, metal and plastic skis, grooming, snowmaking and high speed lifts potentially provided for the expansion of the sport but I wonder if they didn't also lend a certain banality.  Whereas proficiency in the sport was a rare and widely admired achievement requiring really superb athletic skills (watch movies of Art Furrer, Dick Durrance or Stein Erickson from their respective eras sometime) it  is now accessible to quite a few. Something about the pursuit of that kind of mastery added to the allure and glamour of the sport in a sense that may be missing today.

post #41 of 55
Quote:

Originally Posted by oisin View Post

 

Did plastic boots revolutionize skiing in some profound way? No, like many of the innovations in skiing since they have allowed more people to achieve a relatively higher level of proficiency and ski a wider range of terrain with a modicum of control.

 

Something about the pursuit of that kind of mastery added to the allure and glamour of the sport in a sense that may be missing today.

 

true of many an "improvement", anti-lock brakes, speed sensitive steering, etc, in many aspects of life help, I'd agree that without some of the ski advances, the forgiveness offered would likely of left my non natural balance a significant learning issue.  so cheers to the em all

post #42 of 55

Oisin, like you went from laces to buckles, and agree with a lot of what you say.  Never had the money for really good leather boots, Henke was as good as mine got.  Moliters were a beast of a boot!  Lange Standards were my first really decent boots (with the black liners no less).

 

Do remember cutting the crap out of the insides of the leather boots with edges, and not being able to get a pair to last with much support for over about a season even with long thongs.  Also remember students in rental boots that were like bedroom slippers, making their first snowplow turns into a real challange for the less gifted.  

 

Still stand by the plastic boot vote.  A couple of years later and hot doging appeared, and the revolution was on.  Viva la Revolution!

post #43 of 55

The newest unseen product....computer simulation that is progressing equipment design faster and further than imagined.  Forget the try this see what happens, do it on the computer first if the idea pans out, and then try it in real life.  Years of trial and error in days, before actual snow time.

 

Sorry had to throw that one in.

post #44 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Oisin, like you went from laces to buckles, and agree with a lot of what you say.  Never had the money for really good leather boots, Henke was as good as mine got.  Moliters were a beast of a boot!  Lange Standards were my first really decent boots (with the black liners no less).

 

Do remember cutting the crap out of the insides of the leather boots with edges, and not being able to get a pair to last with much support for over about a season even with long thongs.  Also remember students in rental boots that were like bedroom slippers, making their first snowplow turns into a real challange for the less gifted.  

 

Still stand by the plastic boot vote.  A couple of years later and hot doging appeared, and the revolution was on.  Viva la Revolution!

Henkes were the boot that Arthur Furrer used and promoted. My understanding is that  they had a hinged steel frame and that they were very good boots. I also had the in sides cut up badly by steel edges. The Molitors were better than most at retaining support, perhaps because of the thickness of the leather. My last pair, with their canted soles had been made for some guy on the national team whose name I forget and were exceptional. I just tossed them a couple years ago (I hadn't used them for about 40 years) and they were still rock stiff.. Langes definitely became the boot to have. I remember trying to buy a pair. Some ski shop in southern NH had the last pair in the state and they were gone by the time I was able to scrape the money together (probably around a hundred bucks or so). Most boots were, as you say, pretty soft. The best equipment though was not bad. Metal skis were a huge improvement in the 1960's. Head Comps had double top sheets of aluminum with a dampening layer of rubber between them. These were much more flexible than the preceding wood skis and yet offered good performance, substituting dampening for stiffness. I still think though that all these improvements mainly allowed many more who were less gifted and accomplished ( than the best skiers of the day) to ski with relative proficiency. What changed was that great skiing was no longer only the province of a few. I'm not sure this greatly enlarged the sport though. There were more ski areas around before the technological revolution than after although the large resorts expanded tremendously. (Vail had only a few lifts in the mid 60's for example)

 

Perhaps the biggest change in the sport was the transformation of the ski industry into a real estate operation.

post #45 of 55

I chose 'parabolic shapes' because I feel that it had a more recent significant impact on both the ski industry and the way we ski.

Using "shaped skis" and getting twice the results with half the effort of skinny skis made skiing more fun for more people.

I wonder why it took so long to evolve past skinny skis.

post #46 of 55

I was born after metal edges, fiberglass, DIN bindings, plastic boots etc. all became established. 

 

The biggest innovations in my time skiing have been:

 

1. Shaped skis

2. Fatter skis (which IMO should be on the list instead of Rocker- fat skis make a much more profound difference in deep snow than rockers skis).

3. Rejection of rear-entry boots and a move back to front/mid entry.

4. Backcountry ski equipment (beacons, probes, wideley available avvy safety courses, proliferation of information regarding back country skiing areas).

5. Season passes becoming something the mainstream skier buys, thus increasing their ski days.

post #47 of 55

In terms of the 'industry', probably 'uphill transport' is the biggest game-changer.  Like several people have said, skiing would still be a super-niche sport if you had to slog uphill for every run.  'Grooming' is also pretty clutch, at least in places that don't get ridiculous amounts of natural snow.

 

In terms of actual 'skiing', I'm in the 'stiff boots' camp.  I never dealt with leather boots, but just the difference over the last 15 years -- and between ill-fitting and good-fitting plastic boots -- is enough to convince me.  'Metal edges' would probably be second -- but as pointed out, not very relevant if you're fortunate enough to ski mostly powder.  For us mortals who don't live next to giant mountains that get dumped on every other day all winter, edges are a good thing.

 

DIN and good, reliable release bindings are certainly very very good things, but don't fundamentally change the way you ski.

 

Super-sidecut ('parabolic') skis let you carve at low speeds and do a lot less skidding on groomed snow, but again don't fundamentally change the nature of the sport.

post #48 of 55

I went with charlifts as that innovation made skiing popular.  I mean really, who wants to carry their skis and hike up hill in knee deep snow just to ride down once or twice in a day.  With popularity you get other innovations to make the sport easier and even more popular which funds continued development for further breakthroughs in materials and design.  But if no one wanted it, it wouldn't happen which is why the chairlift is the most important innovation.  It brought new people to the sport.  Everything else helped people already in the sport.

 

Rick G

post #49 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickg View Post

I went with charlifts as that innovation made skiing popular.  I mean really, who wants to carry their skis and hike up hill in knee deep snow just to ride down once or twice in a day.  With popularity you get other innovations to make the sport easier and even more popular which funds continued development for further breakthroughs in materials and design.  But if no one wanted it, it wouldn't happen which is why the chairlift is the most important innovation.  It brought new people to the sport.  Everything else helped people already in the sport.

 

Rick G

Chairlifts, especially the high speed ones, have made skiing so popular that now after the pow is skied off by 10 or 11am, people go off piste and "carry their skis and hike up hill in knee deep snow just to ride down once or twice (more) in a day". And in some places the back country is getting overcrowded.

 

To paraphrase Yogi Berra (sp?) : Its so crowded, people don't go there anymore.

post #50 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

Chairlifts, especially the high speed ones, have made skiing so popular that now after the pow is skied off by 10 or 11am, people go off piste and "carry their skis and hike up hill in knee deep snow just to ride down once or twice (more) in a day". And in some places the back country is getting overcrowded.

 

To paraphrase Yogi Berra (sp?) : Its so crowded, people don't go there anymore.

There is some irony in that isn't there. 

roflmao.gif

post #51 of 55

Metal skis with lots of rebound. Any ski maker can use wood and fiberglass. The real trick was when Head put metal, wood, and fiberglass together. Then Plastic boots.

post #52 of 55
Interesting thread. You can make a valid argument for many of the choices being the most important innovation in skiing. Certainly, without uphill transportation skiing would be, as suggested above, far more of a niche sport than it is now. Also, the role of the 10th Mountain Division in shaping skiing in the US must be appreciated. These are my top three: 3. Gortex (And you can include all the other clothing innovations, technical fabrics, low-weight insulators, etc.). One of the worst aspects of skiing when I was a kid in the 1960's was sweating on the descent and then freezing on the chairlift ride back up. A couple of falls made it even worse. 2. High-speed lifts. Nothing worse than a 25 minute line for a 20 minute chairlift ride to the top, especially in wet cotton clothing. 1. Binding innovations. My first time on skis was in the mid-1960's. My mother dropped me, one of my sisters and two children (about our age) of a friend at the Broadmoor for ski lessons. The other children, incidentally, were the son and daughter of a future US senator, who was on sabbatical from a university professorship and lecturing at the USAF (my father was stationed in CO Springs at the time). One of them fell and his "bear trap" bindings failed to release; he broke his leg. Needless to say, my mother was fairly upset when she had to take him to the hospital and call his parents. Even in the 1970's and 80's it seemed that every Saturday and Sunday you would see the patrol take at least a few people down the mountain on a sled. I don't have any hard data, but it seems as though these days there are far more people on the mountain, and the sight of the patrol sled is far less common. There also seems to be more upper extremity (I guess this is a snowboarding factor) and ACL injuries. I assume that it won't be long before bindings are able to sense ACL-endangering falls and release, yet provide adequate retention. In fact, I'll bet the technology exists, but is probably, at this point, cost-prohibitive.
post #53 of 55

Little side note here, Gore-tex was a result of a spin off of the wire and cable industry from the Gore cable industry fame (this company still exists today doing very high end cables),  There is an interesting write up about it a few years back in Microwave Journal (I believe I have the name correct).  The article details the sequence of events which lead to the fiber being developed.

 

It is always interesting how different industries overlap and where some of the developments actually come from.  To improve Coax Cables we get a breathable fabric.

 

If you want a little fun check out their web site and follow consumer products biggrin.gif

 

http://www.gore.com/en_xx/products/cables/index.html

 

No I don't work for them, but I have used cable similar products.

post #54 of 55

 As someone who struggles to walk but can manage skis I would be snookered without lifts.

post #55 of 55

Maybe I should not have voted in this poll. I used similar boots from 1967 until 1983 and I bought them used.  cool.gif I had to get new equipment because my nephews would make fun of my old equipment. 

 

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