Reinhard Fischer - Shaped-ski pioneer
Reinhard Fischer, the amateur racer, coach and promoter who was an early advocate of deeply-waisted skis for slalom and recreational skiing, died on March 23 at age 90.
By profession a nursery gardener in Hinterbrühl, a suburb of Vienna, Fischer became a keen Alpine racer and promoter of dryland skiing. In the 1970s, while coaching his own kids and members of his ski club, he developed a theory of the pure-carve racing turn, which he called the accelerating turn, and proposed that the turn would be possible with a shorter, deep-sidecut, tightly-waisted ski. He proposed these concepts in papers published by the Austrian Ski Association, and in 1980 began pitching the deep-sidecut ski design to major Austrian factories.
According to his friend Arno Klien, who compiled a celebratory book for Fischer’s 80th birthday, design teams at Blizzard, Atomic and Kneissl responded to Fischer’s overtures by making prototypes for testing, with radius as short as 35 meters. Most of the test skis were long – around 200cm – and in on-snow testing the factories judged the skis unsuitable for most recreational skiers using the typical skidded-parallel techniques of the era. Later, Kästle and Fischer tested prototypes. In early 1990, Reinhard Fischer bandsawed a snowboard to create a shorter test pair with a radius around 8 meters, and judged this ski a success. Fischer took out a local Austrian patent on his ski design. When Kneissl introduced its Ergo shaped ski in 1992, Fischer considered that the design derived from his drawings. He later sold his patent for the equivalent of about 200 Euros. In 1993, Fischer finally got his own Snowrider ski brand into limited production at a cross-country ski factory in Vogtland, in the former East Germany on the Czech border. By then, shaped skis from Elan, Kneissl and S-Ski were already being offered at trade shows (for more information see skiinghistory.org/history/evolution-ski-shape).