"Dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of skiing with wooden skis"
Map of Finnish Ski Makers
Dots indicate locations of Finnish ski-makers. The green dots are locations where ski factories are still active.
Some sites may have had several shops, some are just one man workshops. This map shows only a portion of the original 200 ski factories in Finland.
"There used to be some 200 workshops that made skis in Finland, even finding out their names is these days impossible. You may find some 40 or so, but those one-man ski workshops existed in vast numbers back then (some up to 1960's, now just 2). Those locally famous woodens ski brands tend to pop up in media at this time of the year, as someone reminices skiing on locally made wooden skis at youg age several decades ago".
The most wide spread first proper ski binding in Finland was "Voitto". It was designed by inventor Tuomas Volhlonen in the early 1930's, he founded the Suunto company in 1936.
The Mononen shoe factory in Lahti made the boots for the binding and as it was time of economic woes, those sturdy shoes were not used just for skiing (to school) but for dairy farm work and as general outdoor footwear. Some counties also handed out those shoes for school kids whose familes had no money to buy proper shoes for winter time. This was unsusal, no later ski shoe saw such a broad use, the NN 75 mm shoe was the last one that you could use properly for walking.
Those NN bindings and shoes are have not been sold since about 1990 (and the latest production lots Sievi shoe factory used sythetic rubber base - after some 10 years, they tore to pieces when skied), you can still find Russian webs shops selling new NN shoes and NN bindings, though they are not usable on modern groomed tracks as they are too wide for the groove."......... I. Yrjölä
The Karhu brand lives on, but the makers of Karhu go on as YOKO.
Emil Lampinen started a ski factory in Finland in 1901. On May 6, 1916, Arno Hohenthal and Karl Stokmannas bought Lampinen's ski factory and called the new company Oy Urheilutarpeita – Sportartiklar AB. In 1920 the name of the company was changed to Karhu and in addition to skis, they manufactured spears, discs, spikes and running shoes.
Olympian runner Paavo Nurmi helped to popularize the Karhu name, enabling the company to sell their products worldwide. After World War II, Karhu continued its sporting business.
In the 1950s, Karhu was a part of the cluster of ski factories located in the village of Kerkkoo near Porvoo. The other two factories were Lampinen and Lempinen ("Lumikko" skis).
In 1966, the name of the company was changed to Oy Urheilu Karhu Sport AB. The name changed again in 1972 to Karhu-Titan Oy and the Karhu factorry moved to a new site in Kitee in Eastern Finland.
In 2008 the brand name was sold to Karhu Holding, which also purchased Exel. Exel had cross-country ski, alpine ski, Nordic walking, hiking, rollerblading, and fishing rod-making products. Later, the license to use Exel brand name in ski poles, roller and walking poles was transferered to E-Sports Group Oy.
A dispute drags on in court until fall of 2012, when the ski factory ran by Master Skier Harri Kirvesniemi, looses Karhu name in skis, which is sold to Startex located in Hollola, Finland (know for Start ski waxes). Startex will buy Karhu branded skis from other suppliers.
The Kitee ski factory teams up with YOKO of Helsinki
and China, known for ski poles and outdoor clothing. Thus ski production
Around 2010 both Karhu and Peltonen came out with something
that resembles the tarred wooden skis principle for classic skis what
comes to grip and glide: the Nanogrip/Optigrip bases. The plastic
bases have been coated with adhesive mixed with nano-sized acrylic
Click here to see a sampling of Finnish brands
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© Copyright 2020, Greg Fangel, www.woodenskis.com