Author: Birute Dauderiene, Senior Patent Consultant and Patent Attorney at METIDA
More and more Lithuanians choose active snow sports instead of passive rest in warm climate countries. It is an unspeakable pleasure to fly down a big mountain on skis or a snowboard. Of course, this winter sport requires not only skiing attire but also relevant equipment: skis or a snowboard, ski poles, a helmet and special boots. Have you ever thought, when skiing, how much work, imagination and effort were required for the modern skis to be so comfortable, safe and easily manoeuvrable?
Skiing appeared in Scandinavia several hundred years ago. A certain skiing technique, equipment and competitions were recorded as far back as the 16th century. It seems that there is nothing else to be thought of in order to improve skis – after all, these are just two long flat boards one can ski on. There have been many inventions in this field though: starting with the skiing equipment and ending with snow cleaning mechanisms. Therefore, today we can thank not only the inventors but also the designers for being able to ski down the mountain without strangling ourselves with a tie or without a skirt flapping around, for being able to reach the foot of the mountain without falling down and breaking skis.
We can only imagine that the first skiers could have looked something like this:
In earlier times, special skiing boots were made from leather or fur and were tied to skis by ropes in order to stay firmly in place:
Every era dictated its own fashion: some skiers used to go down the mountain in furs, while others dressed in silk shirts, jackets and ties, women used to wear skirts and coats, also hats.
A French investigator, interested in the skiing history, showed the development of skis in this diagram:
The diagram clearly shows that at first skis were intended only for travelling, hunting or war, whereas now it is one of the most popular leisure forms and winter sports. In the course of improving the technology of ski production, skis were getting wider and shorter, later they were getting longer and narrower until they have become short, light and easily maneuverable.
The last century saw many inventions that improved the form of skis, their production technology was a basis for contemporary light, fast skis of great design. In 1933, a new ski lamination technology was patented. As water-proof casein glue was used for lamination, the life of skis was considerably extended. Later, production of skis with metal, skis laminated with aluminium, skis with wood-plastic-metal layers was started, but they proved not to be suitable enough as they were rather heavy. In 1959, skis containing glass fibre were patented and plastic materials have been constantly improved ever since then. In 1989-1990, the ski production technology was particularly improved. In 1989, carbon fibre skis were produced and in 1990 the so-called “easy-carving” ski geometry was created. As in every field, the production of skis also saw inventions that cause a smile or are simply incompatible with sports.
For example, in 1976 power-driven skis were patented. They were intended for safe going down and independent going up:
In this picture we can see skis or a snowboard, which enables easy turning; it is interesting though if one can go straight on such skis:
In 1966, a skiing costume with sails was patented. A skier wearing such clothing resembles a bat, who could go up on skis into the air and fly around.
This photo shows a skiing costume created by a French designer, which enables one to go down the mountain on skis both on one’s belly and on all fours:
This invention (US5649722) would be well-suited for those who know how to stand on a snowboard and go down the mountain on skis. If one stops for a short while, one can easily turn skis into a snowboard and vice versa:
This picture shows a ski pole with a flask (US 3443820 . By the way, the description of the invention indicates that it is recommended to pour alcoholic beverages into the flask, for example, rum, Martini, vodka, as water-based drinks can freeze:
Thus, there are lots of inventions under your feet. Several ages have passed and coarse and heavy wooden boards turned into easily manoeuvrable, flexible skis. When nowadays you go down the mountain, you do not have to think about discomforts caused by skiing. All you have to do is to relax and fly down the mountain.