Paradise Lost

Finally perfected after 30 years, the carving ski failed to gain a popular following. In its place, we got a ski that has made resort slopes less safe.
By Jackson Hogen

For most of modern skiing’s history, the execution of a perfect turn has been an unobtainable ideal. Leather boots and wooden skis weren’t able to initiate and sustain a continuous, seamless carve. In the January 1967 issue of SKI magazine, Olympic gold medalist and Jackson Hole ski-school director Pepi Stiegler described a teaching method of getting the skis on edge so “the skis are literally carving the turn for you.” He called it the “Moment of Truth on Skis.” 

“To start the turn, the skier should have the feeling of his weight going forward on the uphill ski and twisting the skis downhill. The resulting sensation is of a drift in the direction of the turn. At some split second during this process, the skier senses a moment to apply the edges and start the skis carving.”

At the time, the invention of plastic boots and the use of metal and fiberglass in ski design had brought the grail of the carved turn within reach. Stiegler, who became the NASTAR national pacesetter, clearly saw the desirability of recreational skiers knowing how to carve a turn. 

The year before he died, the incomparable Stein Eriksen sent ski historian John Fry a package that included several photos of Stein in his iconic reverse-shoulder stance, along with a letter in which Eriksen asked Fry whether he should be considered the inventor of the carved turn. Ever the diplomat, Fry replied that he doubted an uninterrupted carve was possible on 1950s-era equipment, “but if anyone could do it, it would be you.”...

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