Man, we sure have come a long way in ski industry technology.
The devices below are Bradley Packer-Graders that were designed to groom ski slopes at Winter Park Resort back in the 1950s. The device was considered revolutionary at the time for its ability to flatten moguls, chop up loose snow, and create a flat surface for the resort’s skiers.
The drivers were completely reliant on them for speed control. They just pointed their skis straight down the fall line and went at it.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame: “This 1950s footage shows Bradley Packer-Graders in use at Winter Park. This invention, by Stephen Bradley, was a human powered and hand controlled slope grooming machine. They were of a “slat roller” design. It had the effect of packing half the snow and powdering the rest for a soft, skiable surface. In front of the roller Steve put an adjustable steel blade, spring-loaded to shave the tops off moguls. Originally filmed on 16mm, this footage shows the pilot’s technique: go straight down the fall line. The drivers were completely dependent on the blade for speed control. This device ultimately revolutionized this facet of the ski industry and led to Steve Bradley’s nickname, “Father of Slope Maintenance.”
Ski resort employees would probably file more lawsuits than you could count if any resort used something like this today. I mean seriously, can you imagine? Straight-lining steep slopes with a device that weight hundreds of pounds attached to you at the hips…Nuts.
It had to be a recipe for disaster, and I can’t imagine how many people were hurt and/or killed before these death traps were replaced by snow cats.
But this footage was from the ‘Good ol’ day of skiing’ where nobody complained about such silly things as their safety, well-being, the amount of limbs they went home with, or their life. I hope you can detect the immense amount of sarcasm I’m trying to convey here about people who reminisce about simpler times. Yeah, simpler times my ass!