Ski gear updates and advances occur rapidly; equipment manufacturers work steadily to fine-tune their offerings and bring new technology and designs to market. Taking a step back from the present day, we can see how far the sport has come.
Archaeological evidence tells us that people have been skiing for thousands of years; the earliest examples of skis were found in Russia, and date to 6000 BCE. The sport as we know it has its roots in Scandinavia, where images of skiers appear in rock carvings dating back to 4000 BCE.
Norwegian folklore tells the story of a group of intrepid soldiers who, during a 1206 civil war, transported an infant king to safety traveling on skis across the countryside. (The image here, titled “Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child” by Knud Bergslien depicts the story.) The event inspired Norway’s modern-day Birkebeiner ski marathon, with participants required to carry a seven-pound pack, said to signify the baby.
The first recorded organized skiing exercises and races are from military uses of skis in Norwegian and Swedish infantries, dating to 1767. Cambered skis first appeared in 1850, and the first metal edge ski in 1926. Cable bindings came along soon after that, followed by the first aluminum-laminate ski and early fiberglass models in 1959. Plastic ski boots hit the market in 1965, with the first models featuring a plastic shell over the classic leather boot.
That year saw the invention of the Snurfer, consisting of two skis glued together to form the earliest snowboard. The sport would take off ten years later. The super-wide powder ski debuted in 1988, and in 1990, one of the most dramatic shifts in the industry came about with the release of the “parabolic” or shaped ski. The gear continues to evolve, with manufacturers always searching for the ideal combination of design and materials.
For more about the history of the sport and equipment, visit Ski History magazine at skiinghistory.org.
Fast forward to the modern day, and oh, how far the sport has come! While those earliest skiers might recognize the basic profile of today’s gear, the lightweight, shaped, highly engineered products that are on the market—and available at Bridge Street Ski Haus—are light years away from those early planks of wood and fur-wrapped feet. What does remain the same is the incomparable sensation of gliding down a snow-covered slope surrounded by blue sky and towering trees, the only sound the chuffing of ski against the snow.
Along with hi-tech skis, boots and boards there are dozens of accessories and gadgets on the market, designed to make the experience more comfortable, safe and entertaining. Skiers and riders today have access to everything from heated boots and gloves to portable video cameras, wireless music devices and software apps that track skiing performance,
Researchers with the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, https://usskiandsnowboard.org, relate that the introduction of the carved ski in the 1990s has been one of the most significant developments in the industry. The curved edge that replaced the traditional straight-cut ski improved the skier’s ability to turn and control the ski at high speeds, which resulted in significant performance enhancement, according to the USSA.
There are a variety of factors that present a challenge for manufacturers when changing ski technology, according to the USSA. These include the ski material, shape and design, the ski-foot interface (bindings/boots), snow type and terrain, and skier body dimensions. The skier may also have to learn new skills, to be able to execute the movements required on a new ski design.
Bridge Street Ski Haus carries the most well-known and well-regarded ski brands in the industry. These manufacturers are at the leading edge of ski technology, offering cutting-edge products to consumers. Read on to learn more about some of the engineering and hi-tech solutions they provide, to give skiers and riders the best experience on the mountain.
At Blizzard Sports, blizzardsports.com/usa, skis feature a wood core, with bi-directional carbon fiber layers at the core and elsewhere. The fiber layers stabilize the ski’s rockered areas, the company reports, reducing weight and vibration.
Burton, burton.com, crafts snowboards in a variety of camber profiles, offering options in weight distribution, stability, momentum, and board “snap.”
Dynastar, dynastar.com/en-us, skis feature active air core technology, with a rapid-expansion polyurethane composition that significantly reduces weight, according to the company. Other models feature either soft, rigid or dynamic materials that combine to create 'suspension,' thereby boosting shock absorption, responsiveness, and grip.
Head, head.com, utilizes graphene in its Supershape ski line, along with design elements that include a wide aluminum sheet and thick tip and tail to create a ski “built for speed and performance,” the company says.
The Pinnacle collection by K2 Skis, k2skis.com, combines carbon stringers woven into the ski, along with the company’s Konic design technology that redistributes mass in the ski. The design, the company says, offers precision, power, and a large sweet spot.
Hollowtech technology by Kastle, kaestle.com, removes layers in the front of the ski to make for a lighter tip.
Rectangular sidewall construction with, Titanal laminates and a high-density core are some of the features available in Rossignol, rossignol.com, products.
Salomon, salomon.com, integrates carbon and flax in both longitudinal and transversal directions to increase torsional strength in its product.
3D.GLASS by Völkl, voelkl.com/en-us, introduces three-dimensional and multiple-folded glass layers in both the tip/tail and binding area, resulting, the company says, in an increased edge grip and a more vivid rebound behavior in turns.
These technologies, designs, and materials are just a few examples of what these manufacturers offer. There may never have been a time when skiers and riders had so many options, with the ability to choose gear customized for men and women, children and adults, across the spectrum of skier ability and terrain.
Snow sports and the gear that goes along with them have progressed from the earliest use of wooden planks to today’s highly engineered designs. The sports continue to evolve, as manufacturers work to create high-performing gear, utilizing new materials, new designs and new techniques. The great news is that the Bridge Street Ski Haus shop carries these cutting-edge models so skiers and riders can take full advantage of the latest technology on the mountain for both safety and performance.
Reserve gear in advance online and take advantage of these hi-tech offerings, along with the unsurpassed customer service and right-there location that sets Bridge Street Ski Haus apart from the rest.
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