Despite the fact that most Olympic medalists wore Kneissl and K�stle wooden skis, the beginner should not be tempted to buy them. Even the recreational wooden models of the K�stle and Kneissl are too fast and stiff for the beginning skier.
There are, however, some new developments in wood and other materials which, although they were not used or tested at Squaw Valley, may be very useful to the recreational skier. The first of these is tonkin cane, used on the running surface of the Viking Valkyrie ($100). The Viking Co. is so confident of the strength of tonkin that it invites the buyer to chop the running surface with an axe. A sharp whack will leave only the tiniest of scratches.
Another new material is bamboo, used throughout in the construction of the Japanese Bamboo Industries' Victoria ski. The drawing on the preceding page shows the Victoria Combination ($69.50), together with a cross section of its laminated construction. H. G. Schwartz, the importer, claims that laminated bamboo is tougher than the best hickory.
The third and most exciting new material is reinforced fiber glass. Glass has been tried before, in combination with polyethylene, but the resultant skis were never successful. Now Toni Sailer, the hero of the 1956 Olympics, has helped design and test a new ski, the Sailer Fiberglaski ($135), made of fiber glass and epoxy with a wood filler (see drawing on preceding page). The combination is extremely tough and flexible. In fact, Sailer claims that reinforced fiber glass is the best material, bar none, for recreational skis. He also claims that the Sailer ski cannot be broken. If the Sailer ski proves all this good, the current struggle between wood and aluminum skimakers may eventually be replaced by a fight between aluminum and fiber glass.
One of the most striking trends at Squaw Valley, from the recreational skier's point of view, was the Olympic racers' almost universal reliance on safety toe bindings.
All but one of the bindings that took the 18 Alpine medals were release types. The fact that Bud Werner, America's best male skier, broke his leg in a training spill while wearing nonrelease bindings may have done a lot to break down the racers' previous reluctance to use safety bindings. Strangely enough, 30% of U.S. recreational skiers still do not use safety bindings. The Olympics should convince them that there is nothing unsporting or unchic about wearing release bindings.
The Marker toe binding ($9.95) took three of the gold medals and nine of the 12 silver and bronze medals. Racers prefer the Marker because it is simple, tough, won't freeze up and is not oversensitive, i.e., will not jar loose whenever the skier hits a bump but will release under the pressure of a strong twist.
The Marker binding also has a good following among fast recreational skiers whose requirements for a binding are the same as the racers'. Most skiers who use the Markers, however, do not yet have the small stopper attachment (50�) shown in the drawing above. They should. It keeps the binding from swinging out of line as the boot is put into it.