Sunday, January 31, 2010

Head XR1 made by Durafiber?

From OldSchool:
This just appears they made skis at least into the 1977 model year....


From OldSchool:
Yes, they do say made in Austria on them.

Wow. Where did you find the GK03? Yes, it's the same era but I'm pretty sure the GK03 was one of the first skis made in Head's new factory in Kennelbach, Austria. That plant and the skis it made owed more to the Kastle tradition than to anything happening in U.S. factories. Head set up the Kennelbach factory largely by hiring away a team of people from the Kastle factory up the road in Hohenems. Kastle had recently developed some of the first very good "compound plastic-metal" or CPM skis, made by laminating aluminum and fiberglass layers together on a wood core -- that would soon become standard practice. I believe GK was meant to indicate glass-compound or some German equivalent. I don't have any sales or technical material on this generation of Head skis and my memory may be faulty here. Anyone want to jump in with better detail? Meanwhile, does it say Made in Austria anywhere on the skis?

From OldSchool:

These Head GK03's look to be from the same era. The graphics look like the same 'family'.


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From Seth:
Cool pic of the Killy 800. Story: It was Head's first ski with a red top -- the marketing department wanted it. Purchasing bought a load of red phenolic and they built the skis without testing the stuff. It turned out it didn't have quite the same chemistry as the old black phenolic. When the skis were shipped to high-elevation and dry-climate shops, the plastic dried out and cracked -- so violently, I'm told, that retailers could hear the snap, crackle and pop coming from inside cardboard boxes in the stockroom . . .

Around 1975 or 76 I went to a Corrock race camp at Targhee, coached by the whole Corrock clan and Dick Dorworth, who then sported a Furry Freak Bros. beard and was called, fondly, Sasquatch. I brought along a pair of 205 XR2s, which I thought were the sexiest skis in existence. I wanted to race in the worst way, and did. A couple of years later I beat CB Vaughn in an industry head-to-head GS (I think he'd been drinking) and that was the highlight of my career.

Here's the XR1, 210cm and almost exactly the same shape as the Strato of the same era. On the tail it says
giant slalom
cracked edge
made in usa
and engraved, the JK logo from the Killy 800.

No serial number on this pair. For more detail on the ski, read the novel Snowdeath at

From OldSchool:
Thanks Seth! Great info.

So were these Head Killy 800's what led to the Dura-Fiber partnership?

Can you post a picture of your XR1's?

From Seth:
Yup, Durafiber made the Head XR1.

During the 1960s Durafiber invented the fiberglass vaulting pole, revolutionizing pole vaulting. Their pole was made by wrapping strips of prepreg fiberglass around a sealed polyethylene tube and then heating it in a cylindrical mold. The heat made the air in the tube expand, pressing the glass out against the inside of the mold.

Howard Head, who needed a fiberglass ski, had long wanted to buy K2, but Bill Kirschner wouldn't sell. After the disastrous failure of the Killy Glass around 1970, Head turned to Durafiber. The XR1 was built by wrapping prepreg glass around three polyethylene tubes and cooking it in a ski-shaped mold, producing a ski with three hollow channels and no wood or foam core (a similar process had been developed in Switzerland by Haldemann and was used to build the Rossignol Equipe Suisse and later some Authier models).

A year later Head set up its factory in Boulder and began making its own wet-wrap torsion box skis. The relationship with Durafiber lapsed and Durafiber continued making the skis as the XR2 model. They also made a shorter "midlength" recreational model. I have a good pair of XR1s out in the garage someplace, and used a pair of the rec skis with Silvrettas as my mountaineering ski in the mid-70s. Durafiber quit making skis around 1976 I think.
From OldSchool:
I recently picked up a pair of Dura-Fiber XR2's (with Burt I's)

Did they in fact made the XR1 for Head? How long was Dura-Fiber making skis? Where?

Snowshoe Thompson's skis?

Check in with the Western SkiSports Museum at Donner Summit: d=34

They have an exhibit on Snowshoe Thompson and probably have some of his skis or replicas thereof.

Skiers of the era used hardwood skis for their durability. They stood up to water much better than lighter, softer woods so would be much less likely to dry out and break. If you were Thompson, you'd know that breaking a ski in the deep Sierra snow 20 miles from the nearest shelter could be a serious issue, if not a death sentence. If you couldn't get hickory, you'd use ash or oak or straight-grain maple.

My own skis have a core of laminated oak and ash. They're a lot more lively and stable than foam-core and plywood-core skis.

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Old 05-16-2009, 04:53 PM
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Default Snowshoe Thompson's Skis

I'm trying to hunt down info on Thompson's skis. I would like to make a pair and try to do his route through the Sierra's in Winter.
*What were the bindings like?
*Did he put skins on the bottom, and if so, what animal?
*What type of wood and length were the skis? I've heard oak and that they were 10ft long. I would be surprised at the choice of oak. Why not a lighter wood?

First giant slalom?

The first giant slalom was set on the Marmolata in Italy's Dolomite mountains, by Guenther Langes in 1935. See Franco Dezulian, "Lo 'slalom' gigante alla Marmolada," Rivista Mensile (Feb 1935: xxiii-xxvii. One whole page is taken up with a photo and the course drawn on it. Der Winter 28, 13 (April 1935): 555-556 says that the Marmolata GS is now being copied and there will be one at Easter (I presume Easter 1935) at Davos. -- John Allen

Controlled Downhill Skiing – Part Two
By Richard Durrance
In a sense, this is not exactly the right terminology, insomuch as it implies simply the lengthening of our present slalom. In this way the quality of daring for this type of race is liable to be lost. On the other hand, it should not be the present downhill race controlled to the nth degree, thus “sissifying” a course beyond need. In other words, control a downhill race in the dangerous sections with portions of a slalom in the sense of harmonizing required turns to the particular stretch in question. An example of this would be a race on Mt. Washington from top to bottom, done in the following manner: insert fluid, smooth slalom sections in the rocky parts above and to the headwall and then leave the headwall itself open. This includes a section daring enough for most skiers and is void of obstacles like trees, rocks, etc. Then continue in the same manner on down the rest of the trail, always avoiding dangerous obstacles by inserting slalom sections. The tall slalom flag should be used, for it helps in giving better vision and maintaining permanence of position of the gates as well as simplifying the question of penalties. They should be about six or seven feet tall and strong enough to withstand punishment. With these flags anyone could lay out a sample of what I am driving at and see how it works sometime, following along these lines: use your entire downhill trail. Then lay out an extremely fast slalom in comparison to what has been done heretofore and try to incorporate all the natural difficulties that usually oppose high speed on this particular terrain. It is very important to direct the speediest spots, that is, direct them into safety. I mean, as you start checking the speed of the slalom for necessity of safety, do it where he who is unable to check for lack of skill and stamina but has had the foolhardiness of daring the speed beyond his control, will naturally fall somewhere besides into extremely hard surfaced trees. Above all, never forget the maintenance of rhythm. Use bumps, gullies and other natural difficulties to give variety and create interest. A trail of this sort should test and separate the skiers on such qualities as I mentioned. There is also more chance of the younger generation trying to reach the pedestal of fame and championship and live through the process.

I am looking forward to the Edson Race this spring with great interest, for it seems to me to represent a turning point in our rapidly evolving sport of downhill racing in the East. The course setter has a large responsibility; in fact, the success of such a course lies in his understanding of the characteristics of this type of modern downhill racing.

End of article.

Jonathan Robinson

The following account was originally published in an Amateur Ski Club of New York News Letter, just before it was reprinted in the January 1, 1937 issue of The Ski Bulletin, entitled:

Controlled Downhill Skiing
By Richard Durrance
It is my sincere hope that a controlled form of downhill racing will spread in use in the future. To me it seems particularly suited to our trails if we are endeavoring to make New England racing safer. Of course, it is an experiment, and only through a favorable outcome can prove anything. I mean by this the practical success is the thing that counts in the end. If I may venture to voice my anticipation of a downhill race of this sort it is only in the form of a forecast. I do not want to sit back and discuss something with great certainty which is still in its theoretical stage of development, as so many people do. The skiers at large must verify or rectify anything I say now.

If safety is to be preserved or introduced, whichever way you may wish to look at it today, we will have to try to curb a certain tendency which seems to be developing as regards racing. Not exaggerating too much, it seems that a first rate trail today must be ever steeper, straighter and more dangerous than any of the others. A headline hero must have taken this trail absolutely straight and necessarily have shaved the trees on all corners and barely have made the finish. The result is true and simple. The good skier with an unusual amount of luck will win, while other good skiers will crack up - and the same man isn't always the lucky one. To be a good skier it seems you must "schuss the whole blasted trail", which all seems to lead to an unknown fantastic goal of perfection in skiing which no one can ever reach. Enjoyment as the real spirit of skiing seems to be forgotten.

By adopting a type of race which is being developed in Europe, and by the way, gaining wide recognition, we are not in the least trying to copy them in order to consider ourselves right for the fact. No, not at all. There is plenty of reason to give this idea of controlled downhill racing thought, here in the East, where the situation seems to be getting out of bounds. It might be the answer to our need for a saner goal for perfection in skiing, with safety as the keyword. It seems to serve a function in the evolution of our skiing here and provide an example and spectacle of pure honest ski technique. It is also a better end for the youngsters to work toward in their desire for championship skill.

Attempting to summarize the qualifications of a ski race, I will name three factors which I think play the major role in testing the comparative ability of different skiers. Technical skill applied to the handling of the skis, stamina and daring. The practice of such a race should be carried out in such a way as to insure as much safety as possible. The slalom as it has been practiced over here in general has to a great extent been unpleasantly jerky; a series of narrow choppy gates, usually quite unrelated to the natural terrain, all of which is avoiding the true issue of the slalom of harmonizing terrain with the different turns. The emphasis here is definitely on the technical skill side and tends to leave out factors of stamina and daring in their wanted proportions. Similarly, the downhill race tends to minimize the presentation of skilled, controlled running by virtue of emphasis on stamina and extreme daring, hereby overstepping the margin of safety. To me the theoretical solution to combine the most desired qualities for a test can be presented in what we might term a "giant slalom".

End of Part One.
Part Two coming in a bit.
Jonathan Robinson

The link below is from a post I made on the Time for Tuckerman site (under my pseudonym Harkin Banks). It explains the story about Durrance's design of the course that year's inaugural Franklin Edson Memorial Race as this country's first "giant slalom".
The articles were taken from The Ski Bulletin dated March 26, 1937.
I have that issue in my collection, as well as the one from January 1, 1937, that has that 'treatise' of Durrance's of which you speak.
If there is sufficient interest in it, I'd be willing to transcribe it for everyone's reading. t21033

Jonathan Robinson

There's a reference in Reaching That Peak, the history of the DOC, on page 253 mentioning what seem to be the first giant slalom in America. "The [1935] Eastern Slalom Championship on [Mt.] Washington [in Tuckerman Ravine] were the last races of significance that season and included one of the first attempts to run a Giant Slalom. Durrance, the source of this idea, laid out the course in Tuckerman's."

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the 1934-35 American Ski Annual on the 1935 giant slalom at Tuckerman's which may be too late in the season to have made the deadline. There is a report on the National Downhill held on Mt. Washington in March.

The picture of Durrance in that race or in a subsequent 1937 race is in Skiing Heritage (Second Issue 1998 Vol 10 number 2 -- Winston Pote Pioneer Photographer page 10), although it is said to be the first giant slalom, it is identified as being in 1937.

Somewhere else that I cannot put my finger on, Dick I think it was refers to a race in 1933 on the Marmolata, I think it was where an Italian champion had laid out a giant slalom course as a variation on the downhill. The FIS might have some info on it.

I have an undated New York Times clip obviously written in 1939 that begins with this lead sentence: "That American competitors are contributing something to the improvement of skiing in their movement for safety in downhill racing is widely recognized. One of the leaders in this movement is Dick Durrance who inaugurated the 'giant slalom,' a controlled downhill race which puts a premium on a competitor's skill rather than on his sheer nerve, though it still demands the stamina necessary to good downhill racing." The article claims the first U.S. giant slalom was the Edson Memorial Race held on Mt. Washington, April 4th 1937, and is now an annual race, but this is obviously not the first GS in the U.S.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the 1934-35 American Ski Annual on the 1935 giant slalom at Tuckerman's, which may be too late in the season to have made the deadline. There is a report on the National Downhill held on Mt. Washington in March.

-Morten Lund

Dick Durrance wrote a short piece on page 187 of the 1942 American Ski Annual about his idea to run a "giant slalom" race at Alta in the winter of '42. Does anyone out there know of an earlier reference to the term giant slalom? Perhaps g.s. races were held in Europe before World War II. The giant slalom was first introduced as an official FIS event in 1950.

-- Snowfry

Canadian Ski Annuals online

Posted by Skimus (Ottawa)

Please note the "Canadian Ski Annuals" and "Canadian Ski Yearbooks" are now online (indexed by page/title and linked online to searchable PDF files)
A great resource for research or enjoyment: 1923/24 to 1939/40 (not inclusive)

Mind of a downhiller

Posted by Will (Waterloo, Iowa)

A couple of weeks ago, while spending a week with my family at my Sister's farm in Northeast Iowa, I was able to visit with my Nephew's girlfriend who had skied competitively in Downhill and Super G. And had some questions answered that I found interesting.

In reply to my question of how far ahead she skied while racing... My Nephew's girlfriend answered that she skied two gates ahead... while she was racing Super G... contantly in her mind going two gates ahead... back to where she was... and two gates ahead again...

In reply when I asked if... like a Indianapolis Race Car Driver, who have been known to drive their race cars at breakneck speeds around the track... and after coming back into the pits... asking their girlfriend who that guy was they were talking to in the grandstands... as they were out racing... If while hurtling down the slope in a downhill race... if they noticed things along the course... like some guy standing along the slope? My Nephew's girlfriend answered... "That if you noticed things like that while racing... at speeds sometimes up to 65 MPH... you weren't doing your job... You were not IN THE ZONE..."

Also during our conversation... she went down into the TUCK POSITION... and the competitive look on her face and in her eyes... I wish I had had my camera...

Anyway I thought it was interesting... and thought I would share it...

Viking skis?

Posted by GTFangel (Minnesota):

Has anyone heard of Viking-brand skis? The ones I have are from the early 1900s with the typical grooved top, nipple tip, and flat profile. I've heard of Viking before and have only seen them in Duluth, Minnesota. Does anyone know their history or background?

Image is here:

World's first ski lift?

Ok I know this is your business to know such things... But still that was really impressive
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Boulder
Posts: 141
Default World's first ski lift?

I am doing a book on "FIRSTS" and am trying to determine the "world's first ski lift" and all the details surrounding it.

Can you please help me? What /where/when was the first?
Who built it? Is it still around? Any/all information greatly

Thanks for considerations,

Wilson Casey
"Trivia" Guinness World Record Holder
Spartanburg, SC

Depends on how you define ski lift. Passenger-carrying ropeways to cross rivers and climb cliffs date back to the 17th century, and maybe earlier in Asia. The first mechanical devices to carry skiers uphill were railroads, beginning in 1868. See

The first electric-powered cable cars went into operation beginning around 1885, originally for industrial applications (hauling mine ore, etc). Alpine resorts began installing them around the turn of the century.

The first purpose-built cable to pull skiers was set up by Robert Winterhalder, a hotel owner in Schollach in Germany's Schwarzwald, in 1908. He took out a patent the following year. It was an overhead cable running on four or five wooden towers, driven by an electric motor, itself powerd by a small hydroelectric plant at the hotel. Cable run was 280 meters over a 32-meter vertical -- about 100 feet. Skiers or tobogganers could grab a handle or harness.
See (in German, with photos).

The first powered recreational lift in North America was built for the winter carnival in Truckee, Calif. in 1910. Built by one J. Kirchner, it used a fixed steam engine and a cable to haul toboggans up a 950-foot run. We consider it a ski lift just because local skiers jumped into the track, grabbed the cable and rode right on up.

The first rope tow for skiing was built by Alec Foster at Shawbridge, Quebec in 1933.

The first chairlift was built by Jim Curran, a Union Pacific engineer, at Sun Valley in 1936. It was patterned after industrial ropeways.

Hope this helps. All this information is available online with some judicious googling.

Mort and Seth
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End of the line for Rosemount?

Frankly, I don't recall that the Rosemount was especially cold. Because the Rosemount was my first plastic boot, the only thing I had to compare it to was the soggy leather boot I learned to ski in -- at least the Rosemount kept my socks dry, so I probably considered it toasty. But hell, I was 21 years old, learning to ski powder, and invincible. What did I care about cold toes?

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Old 08-08-2009, 01:46 AM
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Default Rosemount boots -- warm?

How warm were the Rosemount boots you skied in. I have several pairs, but have only skied in them in warm spring conditions and then only for a couple of runs. How warm were they on a really cold day? For example, in the Midwest, we regularly skied in ten below zero conditions (Fahrenheit). Were the Rosemounts warm in those kinds of conditions? Seemed like they would not be because of the "dead air gaps" inside the boots.
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Old 03-08-2009, 09:11 PM
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Location: Boulder
Posts: 141

I skied in Rosemounts from 1970 to 1973. The boot was far ahead of its time -- by far the best combination of comfort, warmth and edging power available in that period.

I built mine up with a five-inch extension above the fiberglass cuff -- by 1974 the Nordica GP and Lange Phantom reached the height of my Rosemounts and that's where performance boots have been ever since. One of my boots found its way by a circuitous path to the Alf Engen Ski Museum in Park City -- it's on display there, a black Rosemount with an ugly construction of polyurethane sheet, upholstery foam and silver duct tape, attached with pop rivets and closed with an old Henke buckle.

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Old 03-08-2009, 05:24 PM
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That's around what I thought...Heres a quick look back to 1965ish when they first appeared for the low price of $140  (almost $1000 today)

I've always been very impressed with the bold approach they took in 1965....not building a plastic "'leather" boot like Lange did.
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Old 03-08-2009, 04:09 PM
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I believe that would have been 1973. If anyone has a better memory or documentation, give a shout please.

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Old 03-07-2009, 07:32 PM
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Default End of the line for Rosemount?

What was the last year that boots were produced under the Rosemount label?
See attched picture of a highback later version....
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