If you drive about one hour north of Munich, Germany, you come to the Bavarian town of Straubing, where Völkl skis has its manufacturing plant. The company is famous for maximizing their use of cutting-edge technology, sophisticated research, and creative development. No wonder Volkl skis are often the favorites for world-class athletes and weekend warriors. The company is a frequent recipient of the Ski of the Year award from Ski Magazine, and often earns similar accolades from Freeskier and other industry magazines. With a history that dates as far back as 1923, the Volkl company certainly knows what it’s doing.
In the Beginning
A family history of carpentry inspired Franz Volkl’s to become a ski maker. His family had lived in Straubing since 1875, and his father, Georg Volkl, was a master cart maker, who specialized in building horse-drawn wagons. Franz diversified the family business to include boats and sleds. In 1923, he created his first set of skis, and called them Vostras.
In 1952, Franz Völkl Jr. took over operations of Volkl Skis, and radically modernized the entire operation. He continued to run the company for the next 40 years. Then, at the age of 65, he sold Völkl to the Swiss group Gregor Furrer & Partner Holding AG.
Enter the Zebra
Volkl had been famous for its solid and conservative image, but that all changed in 1962, when the company shocked the ski industry with a ski whose graphics featured a zebra pattern. While the industry mocked this creative graphic, the skiing public loved it. Volkl was essentially ahead of its time with the idea of creative graphics.
The First Racing Skis
In 1970, Volkl decided to enter into the international alpine ski-racing venue. Their new racing skis brought about numerous World Cup victories, World Championship titles and Olympic medals. The most well-known Volkl athletes include Hanni Wenzel, Maria Walliser, Anita Wachter, Frank Wörndl, Katja Seizinger, Brigitte Örtli, Martina Ertl, Christa Kinshofer, Hilde Gerg, Sonja Nef, Alexandra Meissnitzer, Tanja Poutiainen, and Nicole Hosp.
The Racing Tiger
During the 1970s, Volkl also introduced the all-metal Volkl Renntiger, known as “Racing Tiger.” Völkl then introduced carbon fiber skis, an idea that was way ahead of its time. The Renntiger was reincarnated in 2005 as the Volkl Racetiger.
Onward to the Future
Continuing onward, in 1994,Volkl became one of the first companies to manufacture a pure carving ski. Today they continue as innovators in the ski industry. If you happen to find yourself in Straubing, Germany, stop by the Volkl manufacturing plant and take the factory tour!
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