The day of the lone inventor is not over yet. Norm Johnston, a metallurgical engineer who operates a small ski area in Valparaiso, Ind., has come up with a radical design for an easy-turning novice ski that, in the words of those who have tried it. "shouldn't work - but it does."
What Johnston wanted for the hordes of beginners who learn to ski on his 150-foot-vertical hill was a ski on which it was almost impossible to catch an edge. a ski that would turn so easily that anybody could handle it. What he came up with was a kind of modified barrel stave. A woodcore, metal sandwich ski, it has reverse camber which is to say that both ends curve upward). This makes the ski swivel with amazing ease.
In addition, Johnston positioned the narrowest part of the ski farther back than is usual. With the center of the boot sole over this point, the ski has good stability and provides a smooth ride.
Surprisingly, Johnston's ski also has very good edge grip under the foot. The only problem with the ski is that it is not very stable when you're going straight down the hill - you have to keep turning to maintain control. But as far as Johnston is concerned. that's just fine. Turning is what his beginners are trying to learn anyway.
Called the Fischer Pines, Johnston's ski is manufactured for him by Fischer in Austria and distributed to selected ski shops by Johnston himself. This year (the second season of production), the Fischer Pines will come in two children's sizes (120 and 140 cm) to retail at $150, and four adult sizes (150, 160, 170, and 180 em) which cost $175. The ski will be available in the following ski shops: Doug Kittredge Ski Shop, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. ; The Ski Haus, Cleveland, 0.; Awe Bros. Ski Shop, Milwaukee, Wise.; Princeton Sports, Baltimore. Md.; Schuss Mountain Ski Shop, Mancelona. Mich.; Buena Vista Ski Shop, Bemidji, Minn.; Sun Valley Ski Shop, Montezuma. Ia.; and Recreation Sports at Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone, Colo.