My three biggest skiing influencers
If you ask someone to name three persons who have influenced the sport of skiing, you will get as many answers as people you ask.
Now I will give you my three.
First of all I give you Ingemar Stenmark, a Swedish legend and the man that turned Sweden into a downhill skiing nation. Ingemar won 86 titles, his first in 1974 and his last in 1989 (!), totally dominating the slalom and giant slalom between 1975 to 1979. Once he won a giant slalom race with incredible 4.06 seconds! Unreal! Unbelievable!
At that time, when Ingemar competed, Sweden would literary stop. In school, our teachers had no option but to drag the black and white “thick TV” into the classroom so we all could watch him. And the same goes for factories, banks etc. Nobody moved when he did. Ingemar hated the media, he was extremely shy and just wanted to ski. His recipe to his dominance when asked was as simple as logical: “Just ski.” Sounds a lot like Nike, don’t you think?
Second of all I give you Patrick Valencant, a French legend in big mountain skiing. As Ingemar kept skiing in the pistes Patrick went as from them as possible. Patrick started skiing where it was considered impossible to ski, in 60 degree slopes, and always climbed up! Helicopters is cheating right. To be able to go where he wanted to go he had to come up with a new turning technique called “Peddle Steep Turn”. The technique involved pushing off from the uphill ski, away from the slope and completing a portion of turn’s rotation while in the air and then landing back on the downhill ski. This has developed into the carving turn. Patrick´s motto was: if you fall, you die. And so he did. But not while skiing. In 1989 he fell and died in a climbing accident due to a broken carbiner. Study his technique in this video and notice the simple gear he is using.
The third man I will bring to my list is another Swede, Johan Eliasch. I doubt you have ever heard of him. Neither had I until recently when he appeared in a Swedish radio show. He has two major technical leaps on his conscious. He introduced titanium into making tennis racks and he brought carving back into our lives. Carving, or hourglass, did exist in the seventies in a not so extreme shape, but the focus then was on making longer skis. Eliasch, who bought Head in 1995, wanted to bring these two ideas to life. He did serious testing of different shapes of hourglass skis with a pro skier he new, and together they found a concept that worked. If you know your tennis you know who plays Head on the tour. No?! Novak Djokovic. N:o 1.