WHAT IF…

Image:WHAT IF…
02. Jan, 2018 Written by: Ingemar Stenmark
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I was never one to reminisce much about the past and think about the glory days. It seems as if it all took place in a different lifetime. It is the past and I prefer to live in the present.

But it’s a fact that skiing is a very important part of my life.  When I compare the days of my skiing career to the present I find just how much the sport has changed in the tree decades since I finished my career. The skis have seen the most changes. I always had a special relationship with them. I didn’t care much for design and colour, but I was quite particular and demanding about their ride characteristics. I could feel the smallest of details even in my early teenage years. At the time the rule was that skis become good after they were used for a while. It was as if after a certain time all the layers of materials merged into a perfectly balanced whole. When it became clear which sets of skis worked for me, I only wanted to ski on those. I became very attached to them. This meant that I often got very used to a particular pair that I skied on throughout the entire season. At the last races of the season the edges were ground down to the thickness of a hair and I sometimes had to hammer them straight between the two runs.

I had the good fortune of working with my long time ski technician and friend Jure Vogelnik who was very aware of my wishes, needs and quirks. Together we came upon the idea that it would be interesting if skis had a more prominent sidecut. When the guys from the R&D department got me the first set to test, I immediately felt much faster. But at the race I didn’t do so well. I had problems on the steeps, but on the flatter parts of the piste they were excellent. Skis at the time were 205 centimeters long and it was very difficult to achieve the necessary torsional stability at such length with the increased sidecut. But what mattered was the feeling, and it was great.

Throughout my career I always sought for that perfect turn, especially in the giant slalom. You could say I was carving turns in a way with those two metre plus skis. Well, when the snow conditions allowed it. I rode the tails of the skis hard and when I managed to bend them, the whole thing looked much like modern carving.

And just a few years after the end of my career the skiing world had its revolution. Elan and its SCX ski found a way to turn fantasy into reality. Those skis changed skiing for ever. They actually enabled perfect turns. I thought they were fantastic. At the time I wished that Elan’s engineers would have come across the solution some ten years earlier so that I could have raced them. Of course it is hard to say whether I could have won as many races as I did on them, but I am certain that skiing would have been a lot more fun. I think that is the key difference. It is not a matter of half a metre of difference in length and different geometry. It is about what modern skis allow, what you can do on them on snow and what sort of feedback they give to the skier. That is the main difference. And the difference is not reserved just for racers, it is there for any recreational skier.

I am not a man of nostalgia and old memories, so I do not dwell upon the question of what could have been. I rather enjoy the present, skiing with my family and friends on modern state of the art skis. I still like to carve a fast GS turn. And I still really love skiing.

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