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Carving skis

A ski or ski is a long, narrow and flat piece of sports equipment that is mainly used in pairs for sliding movement on snow . To do this, the skis are attached to the ski boots with a binding . Each ski has a running surface and an upwardly curved tip, the so-called shovel. The shape of the skis differs according to the type of sport practiced with them or the specific area of ​​use. In addition to skis for moving on snow, there are also special water skis and grass skis, conventional skis can also be used on sand or special mats.

Word origin, linguistic

The word ski was borrowed from the Norwegian ski in the 19th century , which means log (split wood) or snowshoe . The word itself comes from the equivalent Old Norse skíð and is originally related to the German word Scheit .

When plural form are loud Duden ski and ski and ski and Schier usual. The pronunciation is primarily "Schi" (as in Norwegian), "Schki" also occurs locally or dialectically, for example in Graubünden and Valais .


Ski finds

The most famous ski find is the "Ski von Hoting", dated to an age of 4500 years, it was found in a moor near Hoting in Sweden. It is a 110 cm long and 10 cm wide board. A 4000 year old rock carving by a skier was found on the Norwegian peninsula Rødøy .

So far, ski finds from Kalvträsk in northern Sweden , dating back to 3200 years ago, were considered the oldest ski. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, excavations carried out by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Vis , a village near Sosnogorsk in northwestern Russia , unearthed fragments of skis that could be dated to around 8,300 years before our era. This fact means that the traceable history of the ski is twice as old as previously thought.

On the basis of these finds as well as some medieval illustrations, e.g. For example, on the late 13th century Hereford map , the invention of the ski is often attributed to the Saami people . This opinion is controversial, however, as skis were used as an early means of transportation in many snowy areas around the world.

Ski as a means of transportation

Depiction of Sámi skiing with typical Lapland skis from 1767
Scandinavian ski soldiers

The peoples of Scandinavia used skis that are closest to today's shape. Many settlements were isolated, in hilly, sometimes steep terrain. A hunter on skis is depicted on the runestone U 855 from Balingsta prästgård . Since many could not afford horses and sleighs, skis were very popular as an inexpensive means of transportation and transportation. Women also used skis; in many clans they used special "girls' skis" that were a bit shorter, narrower and lighter (often made of birch wood).

Skis developed differently in the various regions of Scandinavia. Some were shorter and lighter, others wider and longer. All were elaborately decorated and could be assigned to the clan based on the pattern. In some regions skis of different lengths were used for a while, a "long ski" (sliding ski, often up to 3 m long), and a short, fur-covered "swing ski" for pushing off ("Andor"); riding these skis is reminiscent of riding a scooter. There were many different ski shapes, from completely flattened tops to round or pointed backs (grooves), the running surfaces were also made differently: with flat or with longitudinal grooves; this in turn had a round or angular shape. Some skiers also differentiated between left and right skis. The way in which the skis were cut from the trunk of the wood was also important. Ash, birch and pine were popular woods for making skis. A ski shape, some of which was still used in Lapland in the 20th century , consists of a ski that is bent up at the front and back and has an open leather loop as a binding. This ski was traditionally skied with a single ski pole.

Skis were also used early on on the American continent. The gold rush attracted European settlers who faced high mountains and extreme weather conditions. The Scandinavians, 80% of them Norwegians, had brought their skis, which were called "snow shoes" on the American continent. John Tostensen, who called himself John "Snow-Shoe" Thompson, was a postman who immigrated from Norway and made a name for himself as a ski manufacturer. His mail delivery speed records were instrumental in spreading skis in North America. Skis quickly became popular from California to Klondyke. Records from the gold diggers' first ski races around 1860 report oversized skis that were up to four meters long.

Ski as army equipment

In the eighth century, the Danish Viking prince Ragnar Lodbrok undertook a campaign to northern Norway. His army was subject to a small bunch of Norwegian peasants who, equipped with skis, could move much better in the snow than the heavily armed Vikings. From the time of King Sverre, around the year 1200, mentions of ski soldiers appear for the first time, who played a role in various Nordic wars and also in connection with actions during the Thirty Years' War . In various countries such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, systematic ski training in the army began even before the First World War . The French Henri Duhamel is considered a pioneer for the Alpine countries, he bought a pair of skis from the Swedish stand at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1879 and recommended that skis be used as equipment for soldiers of the French troops.

As early as 1892, the Goslar and Schlettstadter hunters were given ski training on the orders of the Prussian War Ministry . However, the civilian side recognized the military value of ski training much more clearly and propagated it vehemently. As early as 1896, the Black Forest Ski Club invited the Schlettstadt hunters to races, initiated the patrol run in 1902 and, when the German Ski Association (DSV) was founded in 1905, suggested that its main task was to train useful skiers for the army. In 1904 an article with the title The ski in its military meaning appeared in the 'Kriegstechnische Zeitschrift' .

The Finnish ski troops, which, despite being numerically inferior, inflicted heavy losses on the Red Army during the winter war of 1939/40 , achieved particular fame .

Skis as sports equipment

In Telemark , skis were developed for "fun" and racing in the 18th century. These telemark skis achieved a perfect shape for their area of ​​use. The Kviteseid ski model - manufacturer Knut Haugen - still forms the basic pattern for modern carving skis today. Also Sondre Norheim from Morgedal was a passionate skier and experimented a lot. With his inventions and improvements in equipment, he ushered in the "telemark era" so to speak. His constant experimentation with turns and jumps led him to the invention of the first rope binding - his idea: to connect skis and boots firmly with the help of a willow rod. This made cornering a lot easier and made ski jumping possible in the first place. Sondre Norheim's developments can be seen as the basis for modern skiing.

Fridtjof Nansen crossed Greenland on skis from east to west in 1888, after French and English adventurers had previously failed in several attempts on snow and cold. This expedition made Nansen a national hero. The book he published about his experiences excited many people and encouraged them to try out the new sport of the ski pioneers themselves. Nansen's skiing experience found emulation among thousands of students, and young Norwegian emigrants spread skiing across Europe.

Also Mathias Zdarsky , painters and sculptors from the Austrian Lilienfeld, bought a pair of skis from Norway. Like Duhamel in France, he not only struggled with binding, but also with bulkiness, especially on steep descents. He realized that Nordic skis were way too long for alpine terrain. With a saw, he shortened the skis to 1.80 m and obtained easy-to-turn skis with a smaller radius. His development of the "Lilienfeld Binding" (popularly "foot-breaking machine") also contributed significantly to progress. An iron heel holder prevented the foot from sliding sideways and ensured stability. Zdarsky declared his skis "alpine skiing".

The ski wave developed so strongly in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century that it became a market. As the skis imported from Scandinavia were too expensive and bulky, Wagner and Tischler became ski manufacturers in the Alpine region. The final division of Nordic and Alpine disciplines and ski shapes was established by the Arlberg technique. Hannes Schneider perfected the downhill technique of the time. He developed the Scandinavian method with alpine experience from more than half a century. The Arlberg technology can be seen as the beginning of the era of ski tourism and professional ski production.

The Arlberg technology was replaced in the 1930s by Anton Seelos' parallel swing, which is still current today . With the economic boom after the Second World War , ski tourism also became accessible to broad sections of the population and ski manufacturers changed from handicrafts to mass producers who, in a technological competition, endeavored to improve the handling properties of skis.

Chronicle of the most important ski developments

Erika Mahringer on the way to the best time in the combination slalom with the first plastic ski surface Cellulix , Olympic Winter Games 1948
  • Mid 18th century: Development of the telemark tail (ski sidecut), Norway
  • Mid-19th century: invention of cable ties, Sondre Norheim , Norway
  • Around 1850: First preloaded skis, Norway
  • Around 1890: Development of the Lilienfeld steel sole binding and the "alpine ski" - Mathias Zdarsky , Austria
  • 1893: Development of the first ski in composite construction (two-layer wood laminate) - H. M. Christiansen, Norway
  • 1928–1929: Development and patenting of steel edges for skis - Rudolf Lettner, City of Salzburg, Austria
  • 1932: Development of durable three-layer ski laminates with waterproof glue - Björn Ullevoldsaeter, Label Splitkein, Norway and independently George Aaland, Seattle, USA, Label Anderson & Thompson
  • 1944: Cellulix, first synthetic surface - Dynamic Skis, France
  • 1945: Patent and construction of prototypes of the first laminated skis made of aluminum with a wood core - Wayne Pierce, David Richey, Arthur Hunt, Chance-Vought Aircraft, USA
  • 1946: First laminated sandwich ski with a wood core and plastic laminates - Gomme Ltd, Great Britain
  • 1947: First prototype of a ski made from a sandwich panel with an aluminum honeycomb core - Howard Head , USA
  • 1948: First use and breakthrough of synthetic surfaces at the Olympic Games, Dynamic Skis, France
  • 1949: The "metal ski" signifies a revolution in ski construction - Head, USA
  • 1949/1950: The Zaschka folding ski with collapsible ski poles is built - Engelbert Zaschka , Germany
  • 1955: P-Tex, the first polyethylene-based ski surface, immediately prevails over other synthetic surfaces - KOFIX (Karl Kofler), Austria
  • 1959: First successful implementation of glass fiber laminates - Fred Langendorf and Art Molnar, label "Toni Sailer", Canada
  • 1960: First break-proof plastic ski “P60” - Noss company, Mühlen
  • 1966: First patent for extremely tailored skis (" Carving- Skis" under the name "Kaninke") - Zvone Debeljak, Yugoslavia
  • Around 1968: Composite constructions made of different materials (plastic, aluminum, wood) quickly became established, these materials are still the basic materials in ski construction today.
  • From 1970: All major ski companies switch to mass production.
  • 1976/77: Automation of the processes in the production of skis with cores made of PU foam
  • 1981: Components are machined for the first time with CNC milling machines
  • From 1978/79: Integration of foaming techniques for inexpensive mass production and beginning of production outsourcing in low-wage countries
  • 1991: The first carving skis appear on the market.
  • 1996: All companies present carving skis.
  • 1997: The carving ski becomes the standard ski.
  • Around 2000: European ski manufacturers manufacture in fully automated production systems
  • 2001: The first rocker skis come onto the market in the freeride segment.
  • 2010: The rocker design spreads in all-mountain and piste skis.

economic aspects

The development of the ski industry is characterized by a strong boom during the 1950s to 1980s, parallel to the boom in ski tourism. The number of skiers worldwide rose from 5 million in 1950 to 35 million in 1975. After that, the industry was confronted with some dramatic drops and changes. The available figures are inhomogeneous, assumptions about the number of skiers worldwide range from 65 to 70 million people to 200 million people. The number of pairs of skis sold each year fell from around 8 million (late 1970s) to 3.1 million pairs of alpine skis and 1.1 million pairs of cross-country skis (2005/06 season). The falling production figures, not least due to the increasing share of the ski rental business, mean that the ski market has been characterized by overcapacities in the production area over the past two decades. In addition, productivity increased significantly during this time thanks to the development of the cap-ski construction.

The ski industry meets these developments the one hand, with innovations such as the carving skis, acquisitions and shift of production in low-wage countries, as well as a change from a pure ski manufacturer complete provider (skis, ski bindings , shoes , rhizomes etc.). Growth potential is currently seen in the area of ​​the migration of customers from the snowboard sector to the growing segment of the freeski scene, as well as the development of new markets (Eastern Europe, Asia). The influence of impulses from snowboard culture in the ski sector as well as the development of new marketing and sales concepts are currently leading to an increased diversification of the product range.

Since the 1980s, a restructuring of the ski companies that originally emerged from family businesses into divisions of global corporations can be observed. Atomic belongs together with Salomon , Dynamic and Volant to the "Winter Sports Equipment Group" of the Finnish company Amer Sports , Rossignol with the affiliated company Dynastar switched from Quiksilver to the Australian Chartreuse & Mont Blanc Group in November 2008 , Head Tyrolia Mares is listed on the Viennese and the New York Stock Exchange and also the last major German ski manufacturer Völkl currently belongs to Kohlberg & Company LLC, a private equity company, together with US competitor K2 Sports . The ski business is one of many in global corporations, and its significance is correspondingly low. Many experts see this as a not inconsiderable reason for the economic difficulties facing the ski industry.

Smaller companies have found a way out by staying away from the mass market, restricting themselves to a few models or with individual production. The ongoing establishment and market positioning of small manufacturers such as Zai , Indigo , Prior Skis or edelwiser Skis can also be seen in this regard . In the freeride sector, too, there were successful newcomers and career changers such as Scott with Black Diamond and Armada . Her focus is on the production of special skis, the processing of unusual materials and new design and sales concepts. These niche strategies enrich the ski market and have heralded a turnaround in the margins achieved. However, the sales figures remain heavily dependent on the economic situation of consumers and the snow conditions and snow security, so that in addition to the snow sports and tourism industry , the ski manufacturers have also benefited from the expansion of the snowmaking systems in recent years.

Ski types

Alpine skiing

Selection of current alpine ski models from various manufacturers of the 2009/10 season, World Ski Test 2009, category innovations

Alpine skis are specially designed for downhill skiing. They are provided with steel edges that ensure a good grip in snow and on ice. The geometry and structure of alpine skis varies depending on the area of ​​use.

Modern alpine skis for groomed slopes are almost exclusively made as so-called carving skis . There are also special skis for certain areas of application in alpine skiing:

  • Speed skis are special racing skis for downhill skiing , super-G and speed skiing . They are particularly long and have a large construction radius. The minimum length set by the FIS for the Men's Downhill World Cup has been 218 cm (previously 215 cm) and women 210 cm since the 2012/13 season , the prescribed minimum radius is 50 m (previously 45 m). Speed ​​skis for speed races are wider than skis for alpine disciplines, between 2.25 and 2.40 m long and almost parallel-edged in order to reduce the risk of blending at very high speeds and to facilitate an even distribution of pressure. Speed ​​skis are not stiff and hard as is commonly assumed, but are selected as soft as possible depending on the slope conditions in order to achieve optimal gliding properties.
  • With twintips , skis with both ends bent up at the front and back, you can ski , jump and land backwards (also called “switch”) in deep snow .
  • Powderskis (also known as Fatboys) are particularly wide skis for skiing in deep snow (usually these also have a large construction radius and sometimes even a negative sidecut, i.e. convex shape). Sometimes constructed as a rocker so that the shovel floats better on loose snow.
  • In the past, special telemark skis, so-called fjell skis, were used for telemarking . Today tailored piste skis, touring skis or freeride skis are used. The special telemark skis offered are mostly counterparts to the models mentioned above.

Mixed and special forms

  • Touring skis are usually made of lighter materials than piste skis, as they are not only used for downhill skiing, but are also used to ascend with them. For the ascent, climbing skins are attached to the underside, which prevent the ski from sliding back through the hairline. A distinction is made between adhesive skins that are glued to the base, tension skins that are attached to ski tips and ends by means of a tensioning device, and combined adhesive / tension skins. Pure tension heads are almost no longer used. An essential part of touring skis are touring bindings , which are constructed in such a way that the ski boot is only attached to the tip of the boot for the ascent and the heel can also be attached for the descent.
  • Monoski are particularly wide skis on which two ski bindings are mounted parallel in the direction of travel. This fun sports device was trendy in the 1980s, but is unusual today.
  • The Skwal is a somewhat narrower hybrid of monoski and snowboard, but is a lot wider than a normal ski. The big difference to snowboard and monoski can be seen in the position of the user, because he stands on the Skwal with his feet one behind the other in the direction of travel, like with slalom skis on the water. The Skwal was developed in 1992 by Thias Balmain, France.
  • Skiboards, for example "Big Foot" from Kneissl with a length of approx. 65 cm or snowblades of just under a meter enable a relatively easy to learn form of movement and offer beginners in particular an easy introduction to skiing in connection with good training in balance. The disadvantage of long and often more difficult standard skis for beginners is the poor directional stability and the limited suitability of the ski boards for learning elementary skiing techniques.
  • Firnggliders , often abbreviated as Figl in the Alpine region, are also very short and often a little wider than ski boards. They are especially used for driving on narrow firn gullies .
  • Barrel staves (also called daubenski) are the early pioneers of skiing in many areas. They have long since disappeared as sports equipment and are only used for demo purposes and for public entertainment in so-called stave races.

Nordic skiing

Various skating skis, cross-country skiing

Two fundamentally different types of skis are used in Nordic skiing. Both have in common that they have a binding in which only the toe of the shoe is fixed, but the heel remains free.

  • Cross-country skis are narrow, long skis that are primarily used for running. Downhill runs and especially cornering are only possible to a limited extent. The length of the ski depends primarily on the body weight and the chosen running technique (only partially on the body length). A distinction is made between:
    • Classic racing skis are particularly narrow (4 to 5 cm), have no steel edges and should only be used on groomed trails . They are slightly bent upwards in the middle. The ski tension must be chosen so that the middle area (climbing zone) does not constantly touch the snow. The climbing zone is treated with adhesive wax or has climbing aids (for example in the form of scales). The sliding zones in front of and behind the climbing zone are treated with sliding wax .
    • In contrast to classic skis, skating skis are a little shorter and have a flatter tip and a different tension curve. There is no climbing zone.
    • Cruising skis are slightly wider (5 to 7 cm) and shorter.
    • Touring skis are over 7 cm wide, sometimes with a steel edge, suitable for hikes and trips in open terrain.
  • Jump skis are wide skis (up to 115 mm at the end of the ski and a maximum of 105 mm in the tailing) that are used in lengths of up to 2.75 m. They are only suitable for the use of ski jumping hills .

Construction methods

Sandwich construction in cross section
Skis with a combined sidewall and shell construction

Since the 1960s, in the course of industrialization, simple methods of ski construction have increasingly developed processes that are useful for mass production. These production processes are very tool-heavy and produce products that usually do not come close to handcrafted products in terms of quality. The majority of the skis on the market in the low price segment are manufactured using what is known as a foaming process. Innovations in this sector take place very slowly, since retrofitting machines and tools is very cost-intensive. However, there are also some high-quality foam or composite constructions with a very low weight that are used specifically in touring and racing skis.

  • Injection method
    With this construction, polyurethane foam (PU foam) is injected between the lower and upper chords, which then hardens.
  • Composite construction
    With the so-called composite construction, in which wooden strips are inserted into the foam core, a higher rigidity and better vibration damping is achieved.
  • RIM (Reactive Injection Molding) construction
    A wooden core is glued with high-density PU foam. The foam connects the upper and lower chords to the wooden core.
  • Shell construction (cap)
    With this design, the top belt and the side panels are made from one piece. The core (wood, foam or combined), the edges, the lower belt and the running surface are inserted and glued into this shell. A distinction is made here between the real cap construction, in which the shell is a load-bearing layer, and a cosmetic shell construction, in which a shell simply covers the “inner workings” of the ski.
  • Sandwich construction (with side walls) - ("sidewall-laminated skis")
    These skis consist of several layers. They are hand in one of the ski geometry corresponding form (engl. Mold ) constructed. You start with the construction from below with the covering, the edges and a support for the edges. Then a scrim made of polyester , carbon fibers or other materials (lower belt) and, if necessary, an aluminum alloy (titanal) is inserted. This is followed by a wooden core, depending on the construction also a core closure on the side, side walls and, above the wooden core, again fiber fabric (upper flange) and, if necessary, stiffening materials. A cover sheet and the ski surface form the end. The whole thing is fixed in the form and glued with epoxy resins under heat and pressure in a press.
    Skis that should meet the highest quality standards are manufactured in this way, as they guarantee the most precise processing and the skis can be modified or individualized more easily (profile of the core, sheathing of the core, layers and the like).
  • Torsion box principle and winding technology
    The torsion box principle is a very complex construction. A GRP hose is laminated around the core ( torsion box ). The fiberglass material is also located in the vertical area and makes the ski less twisting and therefore very easy to grip on ice. Since this process is very labor-intensive and does not always have a positive effect, it is less important than the sandwich construction with sidewalls and is currently only used on some racing skis.
  • Strictly speaking, the real cap construction is also a sandwich construction, because this construction method means that there is a support material between the load-bearing fabric layers (wood, PU foam, etc.)
  • The counterpart of a cap construction is a version with side panels, in which the top layer is not pulled down to the edge and instead extra side panels are inserted. The English expression sidewall-laminated is therefore much more appropriate.
  • There are not only the pure construction types, but also mixed constructions, such as a combination of sandwich with classic sidewalls (in the middle and back) and a cap (in the front), which means that you can rely on a softer, more flexible and more tolerant shovel (swing approach) and stability and grip in the The course of the swing aims.
  • A combination of a low side wall with a cap cover is also used; the side wall can be modified in various ways.
  • The beta construction with tubes incorporated into the ski is a commercial name from Atomic : “Power Channels” (also a brand of Atomic) are part of it, at Dynamic these tubes are called “Air Channels”. “Fiber Tube” was the name used by Kästle- Ski at the end of the 1990s (before the takeover by Benetton ) with two or three tubes. The principle is by no means new, and LL-Skis from Germina had this construction principle in use many years ago.


The spelling "Schi" was introduced by an NSDAP decree at the express request of Adolf Hitler . There is a quote in a letter from Martin Bormann to Hans Heinrich Lammers of January 3, 1942 about the spelling of foreign words:

"So that we do not come to a situation similar to that which prevails in English, the Führer wishes that Schi is written with Sch and not with Sk."


  • Willy Goepferich: How do I build myself - snowshoes (skis) and bobsleigh sledges (approx. 1920, new edition 2006). Survival Press, Radolfzell, ISBN 3-937933-13-1 .
  • Heinz Polednik: Skiing wonder of the world . Catfish 1969.
  • Fritz Heinrich: The most important achievements, events and innovations in skiing 1935/36 . In: Hanns Barth (ed.): Mountaineers and skiers . Leipzig 1937.
  • Bruno von Tetmajer: My memories of Mathias Zdarsky, his teachings and effects . In: Zdarsky-Blätter , Volume 12.Lilienfeld 1967.
  • Walter Bauer: Fridtjof Nansen - humanity as an adventure . Fischer paperback. 1981.
  • Fridtjof Nansen: Through Greenland on snowshoes . Hamburg 1892.
  • Mathias Zdarsky: Something about the history of alpine skiing . In: The snow . Vienna 1928.
  • Ekkehart Ulmrich in: 100 years of ski technology - 40 years of interski congresses . In: Series of publications by the German Ski Association  21, 1992 p. 78.
  • Friedl Wolfgang : Mathias Zdarsky - The man and his work. Contribution to the history of alpine skiing from the beginning to the present day . District Home Museum, Lilienfeld 1987.
  • Welcome to the History of Skiing , International Ski Federation FIS (English).

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Ski  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ski  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  2. Duden online: Ski. Bibliographisches Institut GmbH, accessed on October 4, 2013 .
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  10. YouTube video about Engelbert Zaschka. SWR television, May 16, 2016, accessed on November 6, 2016 .
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  13. Versatile ski trend: rockers for every taste , Westdeutsche Zeitung, February 7, 2011.
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  16. N. Cockerell, 1994.
  17. ^ Hunter, RE, 1999.
  18. ^ Association of the Wood Industry, Austrian Chamber of Commerce, 2004/05.
  19. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 11, 2011 ; accessed on March 29, 2019 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. Dirk Ruschmann: Skimarkt: Eisige Pisten , balance 1/11, January 14, 2011.
  21. Reinhard Engel: "Ski manufacturers stay on the boards". Axel Springer AG, December 25, 7, accessed on October 4, 2013 .
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  25. Adolf Hitler and the history of the NSDAP Part 2: 1938 to 1945