Was that the End of the Story?
No. The aluminum bottoms of the skis froze up,
collecting snow, and the edges dulled too quickly.
To strengthen the skis, Head substituted plywood
cores for the honeycomb plastic. To solve the
problem of the icy bottoms, Head covered the bottoms
of the skis with a special plastic, which slid
easily over most snow surfaces and took wax well.
Later, he covered the tops and sides of the skis
with the same plastic.
Head wanted to use steel to harden the edges of
the skis, but he also wanted to keep them as light
as possible. His solution was a one-piece, razor-hard
steel edge, inlaid and bonded to the bottom of
In 1950 Head watched a ski instructor wearing
Heads latest pair of skis fly down a steep
hill, carve a series of precise turns, and swoop
to a stop in front of him. I couldnt
get up [the hill] with him. I wasnt a good
enough skier. But when I saw him coming at me,
that fast and that surely, I knew deep inside
that I had it.
The new skis were heavier than Head had hoped,
but much easier to use. Head skis
made skiing a sport that almost anyone could learn
instead of a sport for only the very skilled.
The skis that Head ended up with weighed almost
as much as conventional skis but were stronger,
and more flexible, and turned more easily. Every
innovation was based on a sound structural principle
or engineering premise. Head didnt just
improve on the design of existing skis. Instead,
he doggedly and creatively engineered
new skis into existence.
Sure, I designed the ski to be tough and
relatively maintenance-free. But more important,
I started out to build a ski that would make the
sport easier for anyone who used them.
Hoberman, Unfolding Structures Inventor ›