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?

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