What has Changed in Skiing over the Decades?

09 March 2018

What has Changed in Skiing over the Decades?

The pace of change in skiing has far eclipsed that of many other sports. Techniques, attitudes and technology have changed significantly in just the last few decades leaving a sport which looks very different to the one that might have been enjoyed by our parents or grandparents. We’ve taken a trip down memory lane to look at some of the most noticeable improvements and one or two of the things some might miss from the 'good old days'.

The Cost

Whilst it might feel like prices have increased massively over the years it might come as a surprise to hear that skiing has perhaps never been better value – at least for those savvy skiers who purchase a season pass. Based on data compiled by the USA based Ski Area Management, US season resort passes, when adjusted for inflation, offer skiers the opportunity to hit the slopes at 1950’s prices. So, nothing has changed? Quite the contrary – whilst prices are the same (that’s got to be good news) the facilities offered by resorts to skiers today are far more extensive. Better lifts, better pistes, better safety measures… the list goes on. However the same argument can’t be made for day passes, the cost of which (sadly!) has increased along with the passage of time.

The Cold

For those who have been hitting the slopes for several decades the overriding memory of skiing ‘back then’ may well have been the cold! Until the advent of Gore-Tex and other modern fabrics, the only way to stay warm was to layer up and this often only went so far towards warding off the worst of the cold. Chilly hands were the default – and half hour chairlift rides didn't help. Thanks to modern clothing tech, enclosed gondolas and even heated chair seats mean the days of near frostbite experiences are well and truly consigned to the history books.

The Techniques

Way back ‘then’ who remembers needing to be a real pro to parallel turn and when carving was out of the question? Let’s not also forget being told to keep our knee’s glued together! Thankfully the evolution of skis has made carving so much easier whilst heading down a slope with your knees stuck together is no longer considered necessary.

The Gear

Perhaps the biggest change to skiing is as a result of the changes in your skiing gear thanks to new technology and materials. We have already touched on modern miracles like Gore-Tex which make a day on the slopes so much more comfortable, along with radical changes in ski design which make it much easier to ski but what about things like your mobile phone? Back then, when you headed out on-piste you really dropped off-grid. Great if you were after some peace and quiet, not so great if you had an accident. Throw in the ubiquitous GoPro and a trip to the slopes is now an opportunity to get some great material for Instagram as well as enjoy yourself skiing. Some are going to love it, others might just miss the tranquillity of being out on-piste where no-one from the office could reach you!

The Lifts

Head back to the 80’s and a common sight was lines of people all decked out in neon ski suits waiting (sometimes) patiently for their turn on a single or double chair lift ride to the top. Today, it is without question that this aspect of skiing has improved. Lifts are much faster, have great capacity and creature comforts like heated seats and flip down shields. Less time on the lift means more time skiing – always a good thing! And forget fumbling for your pass… todays electronic lift passes stay firmly in your pocket.

The firm consensus here in the office is that skiing today is better than ever before… think we’ve missed something that was better back in the good old days? Let us know on our Facebook page