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The new powder generations; As ski season kicks off, LAUREN TAYLOR takes a look back at how the winter sport has changed over the past 70 years.

THIS winter, thousands of Brits will head to the slopes of Europe, or perhaps Japan or North America if they're really lucky, to strap on a pair of skis and hurtle down mountains.

What was once a luxury holiday enjoyed only by a privileged few is now mainstream, with ski trips having become more accessible and less expensive.

Skis in their most basic form have been used as way to get around in snow-covered countries for, some historians believe, thousands of years - Stone Age hunters are said to have used skis to follow reindeer and elk.

But Austrian Mathias Zdarsky is widely considered one of the key founders of the Alpine skiing technique most of us associate with the winter activity today (he made a pioneering downhill descent in 1905).

As for the props themselves, something resembling slim cambered skis (with a curve) were first designed by woodcarvers in Norway in the mid 19th century, going through numerous developments over the next 100 years, including being made using ash then hickory wood, solid aluminum and, finally, a mixture of components sandwiched together.

Here's a look back at how ski trends have snowballed over the decades...

1950s "THIS decade was really the beginning of leisure skiing culture as we know it," says Sam Castleton from online mountain equipment shop

"The Fifties was a time of prosperity, with an increase in consumer spending and access to travel, but it also saw developments in textiles which made skiing a much less chilly activity.

"[There was] the introduction of ski-specific garments, using materials like polyester, and items designed especially for the sport, like goggles. Before this, people had generally just worn lots of layers of traditional clothing to keep warm, rather than have specific skiwear. Ski boots were still primarily made of leather in the Fifties."

Fifties icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor helped skiwear make its way into mainstream fashion.

Several famous skiwear companies today were founded in the Fifties, such as Head, which revolutionised downhill ski racing in 1959 with a new type of aluminum skis.

1960s IN the Sixties, fiberglass started to make an appearance in ski design and, by the end of the decade, was used in most recreational skis.

Sam says: "The Sixties saw innovation in materials all round, the first plastic ski boots came in at this time, which was a huge change from the leather boots of the Fifties."

But it was also the decade of glamour for high society, Hollywood and royalty. Everyone from Grace Kelly to Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn were pictured enjoying the high life in the mountains in the latest skiwear.

It was also this era that saw Austrian mountain guide Hans Gmoser first experiment with heli-skiing in British Columbia, Canada. In those early days, Hans was using a Bell 47B1 helicopter, which had an engine about the size of a small car," says Charlie Brooksbank from The Oxford Ski Company (

"The machine could only lift two guests at a time and so had to shuttle the group up the mountain."

1970s BY the Seventies, skiing had hit the mass market and far more people could afford it.

It was also a decade for bold, colourful skiwear, worn loud and proud against the dazzling white of the slopes - becoming fashionable after a Conde Nast photo shoot in 1972.

"Even more technical materials hit the ski production scene, like carbon fibre and Kevlar," says Sam.

"It also saw the introduction of the first rear-entry boots." (These have since been mainly replaced by front-entry boots, where you move the 'tongue' and front sections in order to cram your feet in.) "Technique was slightly different in the Seventies too; back then, the 'desired' ski style was to have the legs very tight together, so the skis were parallel at all times and almost touching."

1980s "THIS was the decade the sport really exploded," says Sam.

Ski culture in cult films like Hot Dog and Ski Patrol opened the activity and lifestyle up to a wider audience, while Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards helped boost British interest in skiing as a professional sport.

Despite the odds, Eddie became the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He may have finished last but he was a hit with the public.

Loud ski fashion had its heyday in the Eighties too. Onesies were all the rage, snow boots were in vogue, and bright colours and geometric patterns could be seen in resorts all over Europe and North America.

Eddie ' From the Eighties onwards, improved technology meant skiers were able to use skis more effectively by 'carving' (transferring pressure from one edge of the ski to the other edge), instead of having their legs 'glued' together.

1990s SKIING began to boom in the Nineties, and many new Think pink: 1980s ski holiday companies arrived on the scene to make a ski break more affordable (although Inghams has been around since the Thirties).

As carving gained in popularity, ski shapes started to evolve too.

"Shaped 'sidecuts' (the extent to which a ski is narrower at the waist than the tips) made turning easier, and the length of the skis was generally shortened to make the whole experience more accessible to learners and intermediates alike," says Sam.

"This decade also saw the start of the fat ski revolution for skiing in deep powder - it was very much inspired from the design of snowboards, which, with their big surface area, floated well in fresh snow and made riding off-piste a much more accessible option than old-school skinny skis that sunk in the deep stuff."

2000s IT might seem ridiculous now, but it was quite rare to see recreational skiers wearing helmets before the Noughties. Today, they're ubiquitous on the slopes.

Ski technology is forever being updated and, in 2004, rocker skis were first introduced - with tips and ends that curve upwards, instead of the traditional camber-style which curved the other way.

The Eagle' "Then the trend went from fully inverse camber skis for great flotation, to a compromise between the old style and this new idea," explains Sam. "It resulted in the combination of rockered tips and/or tails, but still with standard tradition camber underfoot in the middle of the ski to keep it performing well on harder or groomed snow."

" Puffy jackets were the biggest ski fashion trend in the Noughties, and today breathable layering systems in skiwear make temperature-controlwear a lot more practical and comfortable.


New technology and materials mean skiers can access more terrain than ever

Victoria Beckham Verbier Switzerland in

Eddie 'The Eagle'

Think pink: 1980s ski wear

Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones in the Cairngorms in 1965

lightful: Princess Diana a skiing holiday with

Yellow stretch knicker-bockers, orange, black and olive anorak, fur-look coat, ski pants and furry-lined cap ... it's so 1969

A couple skiiing in Hampstead London, after heavy snow in 1955
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2017
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