2023 is a very special year for Völkl. The German ski manufacturer is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Since its founding in 1923 by Franz Völkl, the Bavarian company has evolved into Germany’s largest and last remaining large ski manufacturer and has been operating worldwide for decades.
In 1923, when Franz Völkl converted his father Georg Völkl’s horse-drawn carriage production to skis, it was not foreseeable that the Völkl brand would soon become Germany’s largest ski manufacturer. With innovations such as the construction of the first ski in sandwich design or the introduction of carbon fibres, the manufacturer pioneered the entire industry and repeatedly caused quite a commotion with revolutionary ski designs – including the zebra pattern for the now legendary Racetiger. Even in today’s globalised world, the brand stands for high quality standards, which it has embodied for 100 years: ‘Made in Germany’ is firmly entrenched in the DNA of the ski manufacturer, which has always manufactured in Straubing and now exports to more than 45 countries worldwide.
“We’re proud of Völkl’s 100-year success story. The innovations with which the brand has driven the entire ski industry are and remain impressive,” said Jonathan Wiant, Elevate Outdoor Collective/President Völkl, Marker, Dalbello Brands. “In the future, we’ll continue to create excitement in skiing with ingenious, reimagined products in our modern Straubing factory through our engineering skills and skilled craftsmanship; we will continue to create quality and added value for our consumers while pursuing a sustainable vision.”
A success story begins in Straubing
In 1952, Franz Völkl Junior took over management from his father Franz and modernised the company. This laid the foundation for ideas that would eventually revolutionise an entire industry. In the 1960s, the Straubing-based company produced two ground-breaking innovations in construction and design. With the development of the first ski in sandwich configuration in 1960, Völkl produced pioneering work in the field of material processing; and just seven years later, the company caused a worldwide sensation with a new design – not only based on mono colour tops. The new zebra design was initially met with much ridicule in the industry, but the general public was excited and the striped ski became an international hit. In the same year, the brand was renamed from ‘Vöstra’ to ‘Völkl’. In the following decades, Völkl repeatedly proved to be a driver of innovation within the industry. Milestones include the presentation of one of the first carving skis at ISPO 1994, one of the most significant developments in the ski industry in recent years.
Racetiger: The key to success in racing
The 1970s were dominated by racing for the German ski manufacturer. By entering into the world of competition, Völkl not only expanded its international reputation, but also developed into a real innovation driver in this field. In 1973, the legendary Racetiger was born – first as an all-metal ski and then as a trail-blazer of its time with the introduction of carbon fibre. Only one year after the introduction of Racetiger, the first Völkl-sponsored athlete, Hanni Wenzel, won a world championship title in 1974 in St. Moritz: the prelude to a series of international medal and title wins for Völkl. Whether with Frank Wörndl, Martina Ertl, Katja Seitzinger or Hilde Gerg in the 1990s, Nicole Hosp, Alexandra Meissnitzer, Tanja Poutiainen, Manfred Pranger or Jens Byggmark in the 2000s, and more recently with the World Champion Sebastian Foss-Solevåg from Norway and the Austrian Vice World Champion Adrian Pertl – Völkl can boast a whole series of successful athletes.
Völkl conquers the freeski world
With the launch of the V-Ski collection in 1998, Völkl once again demonstrated its sense for trends in skiing and set new standards in the scene with special models for freeskiers. And it’s not just the products that raised the bar: At events like the FIS Freestyle World Cups, the X-Games or the Olympic Games, the Völkl Freeski Team is repeatedly among the best in the world. Whether with a triple victory in the slopestyle competition at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang or at the start of the current winter season 2022/23 with the victory of the reigning FIS Freestyle champion Birk Ruud at the Big Air World Cup in Chur, Switzerland – the Völkl team is made up of the best freeride and freestyle specialists in the world. Moreover, thanks to the extensive youth development work, the team is constantly being expanded with new, young talents.
At the start of the 2022/23 winter season, Kye Petersen joined the brand’s freeski team. Thus, the successful Völkl team gained another strong athlete of the scene with strong athletic abilities and long-standing experience in ski development.
Völkl looks to the future
Just as it has done for the past 100 years, the Straubing-based ski manufacturer intends to continue enhance its product portfolio in the future and pursue the goal of offering products that exceed the needs of all passionate and ambitious skiers. To this end, Völkl is constantly developing new key technologies – such as the Tailored Technologies used exclusively by Völkl – in order to perfectly adapt the skis to the requirements of the skier. For example, the material used for the Tailored Carbon Tips or the Tailored Titanal Frame is adapted to the length of the ski and thus to body size, skiing ability and strength.
With the V.Werks models, Völkl is also setting new standards for revolutionary ski designs, using state-of-the-art materials, technologies and production methods.The V.Werks line thus constantly points the way to a new ski design era with a lasting impact on the entire collection.
For Jonathan Wiant, Völkl’s employees have played the primary role in ensuring that the brand continues to represent the highest quality, innovation and customer value: “Most of our employees are passionate skiers themselves and express this passion through their work. As a result, the joy of skiing that we want to express as a brand is embodied by our employees.” Looking to the future, the brand attaches great importance to sustainability. Therefore, in addition to the already existing, local production in Straubing, the company wants to enhance its products in this direction. “We want to forge ahead with our sustainable vision of a circular economy and keep improving it – for the future of the sport and for future generations of more enthusiastic skiers,” emphasises Jonathan Wiant. One example of this commitment is the energy supply of the Straubing plant. The plant is supplied with 100 per cent renewable energy by the local hydroelectric power plant at Lake Höllenstein.
More information on the anniversary can be found at: www.100years.volkl.com