Back to the drawing board

December 24, 2009

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The skiing industry evolves by churning out new ideas. Here are a few that were once considered the sport’s “next big thing.’’

Sand skiing - In 1937, the New York Times reports that Cape Cod is poised to become the country’s major destination for summer sand skiing. “The sport, growing popular under the guidance of a Norwegian ski professional on the Sandy Neck dunes near Centerville, Cape Cod, is expected to prove more than a passing fad.’’

Uphill battle - A 1953 invention billed as “the answer to a need long felt in winter sports’’ is the power-driven ski, which propels the user uphill using motor-driven belts with bristles pointed rearward for traction.

Skis for two - In 1961, the US Patent Office issues design No. 2,984,497 to a New York inventor for “skis for two,’’ a tandem way of schussing down the slopes. Longer and heavier than single-person skis, movement is coordinated by shifting weight, sort of like dancing. “Males and females have been kept apart,’’ notes one news story about the device.

Paint it black? - Ski magazine reports in its February 1964 issue that trail signage is finally becoming standardized. From easiest to most difficult, the trail-ranking colors are green, yellow, and blue, followed by the most fearsome marker of all: The notorious “brown diamond.’’

Coffee, tea, or ski? - In December 1970, Loon Mountain debuts a “skiwardess’’ service, which features young ladies serving free hot beverages to those waiting in the gondola line for more than 12 minutes.

Backsliding in style - Spend a lot of time sitting down on the slopes? Consider the 1996 invention patented as “sled pants,’’ which is essentially a wearable, pivoting seat that relieves the user of the “particularly burdensome’’ task of carrying a sled.