Bill Kirschner invents a fiberglass ski in 1961.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2095

In the winter of 1961-1962, Bill Kirschner (1918-2006) of Vashon Island invents a fiberglass ski. (However, a Swiss ski manufacturer patented a fiberglass skis in 1958, so Kirschner was not its first inventor.) Kirschner "wet wraps" fiberglass around a slim spruce core and places it in a pressure mold to produce a strong recreational ski with lots of rebound, priced (approximately $80) between wood and metal skis.

The first production model, The Holiday, was introduced in 1965 by Kirschner's K2 Corporation (named after Kirschner and his brother Don and the world's second highest mountain).

Kirschner gained his knowledge of fiberglass through the manufacture of easy-to-clean animal cages. By 1968, K2 had sold 19,000 sets of skis. K2 gained wide recognition when Marilyn Cochran won the 1968 World Cup gold medal on a pair of competition K2s designed by Kirschner. By 1991, K2 had sold 400,000 pairs of skis, half of them in the United States. Kirschner sold the company in 1969.


Sources:

Adam Woog, Sexless Oysters and Self-Tipping Hats: 100 Years of Inventions in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1991), 42-45.
Note. Woog states that Kirschner invented the fiberglass ski in 1961. However, a Swiss producer of high-tech skis, Gaston Haldemann, patented a fiberglass ski (patent no. 346468) on November 24, 1958. Haldemann sold his license to produce fiberglass skis to another Swiss firm, Rossignol, that year. This information appears in a paper, "Ski Industry in Switzerland," by John (Hans) Schwendener and Luzi Hitz with additional information supplied by ski collector Luzi Hitz, Corseaux, Switzerland, to HistoryLink.org on January 25, 2005. This file was corrected on January 25, 2005.


Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You