"Dedicated to the preservation of skiing with wooden skis"
You may wonder how all of this passion started for wooden skis and cross country skiing. I bought my first pair of Skilom wooden cross country skis in 1974 from a ski shop located above Malmberg's General Store in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, USA. The store was owned by Ralph Malmberg, an icon popularized by Garrison Keillor's show, A Prairie Home Companion. Keillor talks often about Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery Store. Malmberg not only sold Skilom and Troll wooden skis, but his own brand of Malmberg 3-pin bindings. Malmberg was also the founder of the Marine O'Brien Ski Race.
At that time, cross-country skiing was becoming very popular in the United States and Minnesota. Marine on St. Croix was near my home in Scandia, MN and also close to Wm. O'Brien State Park, which had wonderful cross country ski trails.
I continued to ski on wood until the 1980's when I decided to buy my first pair of fiberglass skis. I was amazed at the difference. My wood skis seemed to hold the wax better while the fiberglass skis were very fast. I held on to my wooden skis even though I started using the fiberglass skis more often.
Over the years, I continued to reminisce about wooden skis and how they were so popular in the 1970's. In 1984, a car accident and broken back slowed down my passion for cross country skiing. Two years later, I was back on skis, breathing that clean, fresh air and loving every minute of it. By the late 1990's, I was getting the urge to preserve the wooden ski era. I saw wooden skis at garage sales, thrift stores and in friends' garages. I hated to think about what might happen to them...thrown into the garbage? I started acquiring a few pairs of skis, some brands of which I only heard about in the early years.
At the end of the 1990's and start of the new century, I was on the board of directors for the North Star Ski Touring Club. One of my duties was to take care of the club's website. To preserve the heritage of cross country skiing, I added some information on wooden skis on the North Star website. Almost like magic, people started emailing me from all over the United States and around the world to inquire more about taking care of wooden skis. It was quite fun to correspond with fellow enthusiasts.
In 2001, George Hovland and Dave Johnson organized the first Wooden Ski Rendezvous in Duluth, MN. I attended this first event and enjoyed talking to people and looking at the skis and equipment. The Rendezvous has been scheduled every year since 2001.
In the mean time, I had been acquiring many pairs of wooden skis and I really didn't want to become a collector. So, I started the woodenskis.com website and commenced selling skis and offering information to wooden ski enthusiasts. Since 2002, I've sold over 500 pair of wooden cross country skis.
The inventory offered on the woodenskis.com website is pretty much limited to skis from the 1960's to 1980's. Over the past few years, I have been acquiring some wooden skis from the 1900's to 1950's. Early ski history is very interesting to me, therefore, I've started to do research on the history of ski making in my hometown area of St. Paul, Minnesota. Strand, Northland, Gregg, Lund, and Hart ski companies all started in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area of Minnesota.
The woodenskis.com website offically started in February of 2002 while our corporation officially started doing business in April of 2004.
I don't have much time to do repairs on the skis, but I do clean them up. I still work full time at my regular job, have a wife and two adult children living away from home. This website and my business of selling skis is my labor of love. The money that I make on the skis goes right back into purchasing more and to various charities. I hope you enjoy the website and feel free to drop me an email.........Greg Fangel
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© Copyright 2015, Greg Fangel, www.woodenskis.com