Professional Skier Tries Out 75-Year-Old Skis, Provides Glimpse into the Sport’s Past

by Simon Naylor | Published: September 12th, 2023 |  Ski News

Skiing has evolved dramatically over the past several decades, with new technologies and innovations leading to lighter, more maneuverable gear that bears little resemblance to the stiff, longboards of yesteryear. But for professional skier Tao Kreibich, taking a spin on a pair of 75-year-old skis offered a chance to connect with skiing's early days.

In a September 10 Instagram post, Kreibich shared footage of himself taking a pair of 210 cm skis from the late 1940s for a ride at Timberline Lodge in Oregon. The narrow, wooden boards with cable bindings and no sidecut were a far cry from the shaped skis with rockered tips and tails that Kreibich and other pros use today.

trying old skis

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A post shared by Tao Kreibich (@tao_kreibich)

Attempting Tricks on Long, Stiff Skis Showcases Evolution of Gear

The Instagram clip shows Kreibich attempting to perform spins and land backward on the lengthy vintage boards. At one point, he manages a backward 360, albeit slowly and with evident difficulty balancing on the skis. For modern viewers, it's a comical yet impressive sight, highlighting just how much ski designs have transformed.

"It looks hilarious watching someone try to throw a 360 on edgeless 210-centimeter skis, but actually doing it yourself? My knees are aching just thinking about it," said ski reporter Ian Greenwood in reaction to the footage.

With their lack of side cuts and minimal flexibility, the vintage skis do not turn easily or allow for quick rotation. Kreibich digs his edges in dramatically to initiate rotation for the trick, fighting against the skis' inherent stability and stiffness.

Modern Skis Evolved for Control, Mobility

For today's skiers, especially smaller skiers, modern gear engineering has been a boon. With shaped skis in scaled sizes, skiing has become easier to learn and control. Sidecuts and rockered profiles allow skiers to turn and engage edges more easily, while new materials like carbon fiber reduce weight and torque.

Widths have steadily increased too, going from 60-70mm at the waist years ago up to 90-120mm for many all-mountain skis now. This combination of sidecut, flex, and width gives skiers greater float in powder and stability at speed.

For experts like Kreibich, fatter rockered twin-tip skis allow more creativity too, enabling spins, tricks, and switch (backward) skiing.

Vintage Skis Nostalgic But Lack Performance

Ski historians and collectors appreciate the craftsmanship and nostalgia of vintage gear. For Kreibich, his experiment reveals the vast progress achieved in ski technology and design over three-quarters of a century. Skiers of the 1940s and 50s relied on skill and strength muscling stiff, unwieldy boards down the hill.

But few modern skiers would choose a 75-year-old pair of skis over their new, high-performing gear. Kreibich sticks to one run on the 210s before moving back to his modern twin tips. Skis from 2022 bear no resemblance to their forebears from 1948, each pair purpose-built for the era and style of skiing.

For skiing and ski gear, the past offers perspective. But the future promises even more innovation and fun. Kreibich's sideways glances at skiing's origins get us thinking about where the sport goes next.

Key Takeaways

  • Professional skier, Tao Kreibich tried 75-year-old skis to connect with skiing's past and showcase the evolution of gear.
  • The 210 cm vintage skis were stiff and edgeless, making tricks and turns far harder compared to modern skis.
  • New side cuts, rockers, and flex profiles enable easier turning and control on today's skis.
  • Kreibich's experiment reveals vast improvements made in ski design over decades.
  • Vintage skis are nostalgic but lack the performance of new skis built for current ski styles.
  • While appreciating skiing's origins, new innovations promise more advancement in the future.
  • Comparing old and new skis provides perspective on changes that benefit the sport.