It’s 1962, Got Your Snowboard Yet?

Post by blogger | January 24, 2015      
Is it a mono-ski or a snowboard? Considering the stance I'd call it a snowboard. Made custom for a client in 1962.

Is it a mono-ski or a snowboard? Considering the stance I’d call it a snowboard. Made custom for a client in 1962 by Winkler skis in Austria. Modern running shoes inserted for illustration.

One thing I love about Europe is nearly everywhere you go in and around the Alps you run into ski history. Sometimes you breathe it, eat it, sleep it. Back in the early 1960s, before composite skis helped cause a consolidation in ski manufacturing, hundreds of “brands” of wooden skis were made in small woodworking shops scattered about the villages of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and so on. Ask the locals. Some will remember who made the skis, and where. Sometimes more than a half dozen ski makers plied their trade within a 30 kilometer radius (many not necessarily specializing in skis, but rather being “wagner” craftsmen doing a variety of woodworking).

A local here in Austria where I’m staying remembered in this small region alone they had dozens of ski makers during the days of wood planks. The names are wonderful; for me as an American skier they echo a somewhat mystical creation story: Ober in Kitzbuhel, Muhlberger in Koessen, Staffler in St. Johann, Haggen Muller in Hopfgarten, Bar in Schwaz, Gramshammer in Hall, Kneissl in Kufstein, and Winkler here in Bad Haering. If you widen the scope there are hundreds more, if not thousands — including a number in North America, Northland perhaps being the best known. Oh, and lest I get beaten with a frozen herring, remember the Scandinavian countries where it really all began. Probably thousands of ski makers there as well.

Commenters, can you come up with more names from Europe or North America?

I visited one such venue that other day. The Winkler wagnereien (woodshop) is still operating, its craftsmen making historically correct hay rakes and that sort of thing. Up into the 1960s they were still making skis. And snowboards?

The bindings are basic 'long thong' type from the 1960s, mounted at an angled stance rather than aligned forward.

The bindings are basic ‘long thong’ type from the 1960s, mounted at an angled stance rather than aligned forward.

Winkler logo, Bad Haering, Austria

Winkler logo, Bad Haering, Austria. We discussed the resurgence of small ski manufacturing shops taking place worldwide. Will Winkler become a ski brand again? They’ve sure got the history for it. Anton Winkler I started making skis in 1927, Anton II carried on in the 1940s through the 1960s, and now Gerhard Winkler runs the woodshop.

Winkler skis and the board.

Winkler skis and the board.

Winkler stopped making skis around 1967; these are some of the last.

Winkler stopped making skis around 1967.

Comments open, share a historical ski maker’s name!


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19 Responses to “It’s 1962, Got Your Snowboard Yet?”

  1. Frame January 24th, 2015 3:09 am

    Not a historical view sorry, but an example of things coming full circle. At Christmas I spent a couple of days in the workshop of a custom ski maker who also run’s ski making courses in Innsbruck, and with a watchful eye of the expert and a pre-cut base, built my own ski’s. Great fun!

  2. BenL January 24th, 2015 3:40 am

    Attenhofer in Switzerland, skied a pair in the eighties.

  3. See January 24th, 2015 6:45 am

    Sherman Poppen, inventor of the Snurfer? That was how I got hooked on glisse.

  4. Scott Nelson January 24th, 2015 10:14 am

    Love the historical take. I think it would be fun to play around with making some skis, just for personal enjoyment. Cool stuff.

  5. Jim Milstein January 24th, 2015 12:35 pm

    In ’57 or ’58 I made a pair of skis, just 23″ (58cm), with long thong bindings (Marker turntable and toe). They were long enough to accommodate my boots (leather, lace-up), barely. I rocked back on my heels to stop, just like in the cartoons. Fun on hard-pack.

    Unfortunately these shortest skiable skis (ever?) are lost to history.

  6. Jason January 24th, 2015 4:00 pm

    Looks like a skwal (heard about it in a book called The Inner Glide / the Tao of Skiing). Winkler skis – the Fonz would be proud!

  7. RDE January 24th, 2015 4:25 pm

    In about 86 I had a business partner who was a senior 747 pilot. He suggested we go skiing and showed up with a pair of skis about 36″ long that were cut off immediately behind the bindings. Made in Japan and called Scorpions as I recall. Turns out he and his girl friend spent 3 weeks every year in Italy skiing steep lines on the things. You could actually ski powder and crud on them, kind of like glissanding down a snowfield in your boots. Want to stop? Just dig your heels in!

  8. George January 24th, 2015 5:26 pm

    Northland skis were mint when I started skiing in 1970.
    We used lace up leather boots, clamp bindings, bamboo poles and canning wax.
    I also had access to Normark.

  9. See January 24th, 2015 7:51 pm

    Howard Head

  10. Erik Erikson January 25th, 2015 12:25 am

    Kneissl is still in the business, I think. Remember as a kid I owned a pair of “Kneissl White Star” Alpine skiers which I was very proud of.
    Another little company that started as a “Wagner” in the 1950is is “Keil Ski” in Uttendorf

  11. Erik Erikson January 25th, 2015 12:31 am

    So Bad Haering, Lou? Not far from Kitzbuehel. Did you / will you watch the races there ?
    And snow is coming…

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 25th, 2015 12:53 am

    Hi Erik, I was going to head over to the Hahnenkamm yesterday to experience the culture, but watched downhill race instead on TV with Austrian friends. Glad I did, as we would have positioned ourselves up high on the course and then ended up in the wrong place when the start was changed to lower position. Then today is very stormy so being there in person for the slalom probably wouldn’t be that great. This was not my year for in-person Hahnenkamm culture experience (grin). In any case, I’ve known of the Streif for years and have always been a fan of the course and the racers who enjoy its charms (grin). Someday I’ll join the throng of spectators. Definitely on my skiing bucket list. Lou

  13. BenL January 25th, 2015 5:14 am

    Have you read ‘Two planks and a passion’ by Roland Huntford? Packed with historical info on ski and binding development.

  14. VT skier January 25th, 2015 7:04 am

    Toni Sailer skis. I had a pair as a kid; all white with just the Toni Sailer logo if I remember.. Marker bindings with a long-thing heel
    They were manufactured in Canada (Montreal?) and were the first fibreglass ski constructed in Canada.

    Years later when I started skiing in St Anton, I would go to the Toni Sailer restaurant, right next to the tracks that used to run through St. Anton. You could eat dinner, and watch the Orient Express train go by.
    I had always hoped to see him at the restaurant; the walls were (and still are?) covered with B&W photos from his career..

    Another ski I had as a kid; German ski Erbacher? My first ski with metal edges that weren’t screwed on, and a true P-tex base..

  15. Jason Speer January 26th, 2015 11:16 am

    I think that Wagner is either an early nordic snowboard or one of the very few tele-monoskis. The Europeans have always been ahead of the times.

  16. Erik Erikson January 26th, 2015 2:34 pm

    Jason, maybe there did exist a brand called “Wagner” actually, I don´t know. What Lou is referring to in his article however is the old craft / profession called “Wagner”. “Wagen” in German means something like chariot, and a “Wagner” was the guy who mainly build and repaired these but also made mainly wooden agricultural tools. And for a short period also skies.
    Don´t wanna sound like a “know it all”, but German is my first language and I thought the above might be interesting for some people

  17. Erik Erikson January 26th, 2015 2:41 pm

    Hi Lou, I think the Kitzbuehel-Slalom would have been quite spectacular to watch at the spot this year (actually watched it on TV and therefore was delayed and caught by the dark on the short tour I did afterwards ;-.)
    But as an American at the moment it´s more satisfying to watch the womens races anyway with Lindsey Vonn beiing incredibly strong again…;-)
    I am not much into racing by myself and have not been in a resort really for over 20 years (solely human powered bc-Skiing), but some racers and some races are quite amazing and enjoyable to watch

  18. Jason Speer January 26th, 2015 2:57 pm

    Hi Erik, I meant to say “Winkler” instead of “Wagner”, hopefully my joke still translated ok. 😀

  19. Erik Erikson January 26th, 2015 3:27 pm

    Hi Jason, yes, I got your joke but only after I wrote my comment… english-joke perception takes a little longer for me ;-).

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