Thanks to a mix of creative innovations and consistent, quality products, Völkl has established itself as one of the best known and most trusted brands in the business. As the torch-bearer for the German ski industry, Völkl has stayed true to its roots by continuing to operate produce skis in its original home of Straubing, Germany, while making a name for itself the world over.
What started as a horse-drawn wagon producer has morphed into a company known for frequenting podiums, not stables. The Völkl family settled in the town of Straubing in 1875, led by patriarch George. The Völkls produced wagons, sleds, and boats before venturing into the ski business in 1923. That year, George’s son Franz decided to expand the company’s product range, which turned out to be a solid business decision. Skis, which they called “Vöstras,” soon became Völkl’s most popular item.
In 1952, a second wave of ingenuity hit the company. Franz Sr. passed the reins to his son and namesake, who would transform Völkl from one of many small-time ski makers into a major player in the industry. This shift is thanks to creative product innovations, all of which came without sacrificing the high-quality German manufacturing that made Völkl popular in the first place.
One of Völkl’s most famous inventions is the 1967 Zebra ski—a product that turned heads as soon as it hit the slopes. Horizontal black and white stripes adorn this model, which was the first to feature cracked edges on the top and bottom. This made the Zebra ultra-flexible and an immediate favorite of the public. The Zebra helped make Völkl a household name among skiers in North America, a region that the brand had previously had trouble gaining traction in.
Since then, innovations like the Power Switch and UVO.3D vibration dampening technology have continued to push what is possible in ski design. The Power Switch is exactly what it sounds like—a knob that can be flipped one of two directions to turn make the ski soft or stiff depending on the skier's preference. Völkl claims that their UVO.3D technology is the first to feature a freely-rotating vibration dampener which makes turns more steady and edges less wobbly.
Völkl’s innovations have led to results. Völkl athletes have won Olympic medals, World Cup titles, and starred in some of the industry’s most popular films. From young guns like Nick Goepper and Hugo Hoff to decorated veterans like Ingrid Backstrom and Stefano Gross, Völkl ambassadors speak volumes for the brand’s reputation.
A member of the Völkl family hasn’t been in charge of the company for nearly three decades, but quality craftsmanship and boundary-pushing innovation have remained central tenants of the brand’s ethos. Besides returning to the days of horse carriage production, nothing is out of the question when it comes to Volkl.
Brand profile by Andrew Guckes.