Skiing and snow sports have been around for ages, and like anything of interest, more than a few Dr Emmet Browns have contemplated what the future of snow sports might look like.

Subsequently they turned their assorted brains, hammers, wrenches, screw drivers and whatever else an eccentric inventor might have lying around (ideas presumably), to the cause of seeing to it that the Marty McFlys of today had something better to do other than joyriding around the space-time continuum.
Naturally none of them had the good sense just to build a Delorean and see for themselves what the future of snow sports would be... Far from a complaint! It’s led to some designs that are... we’ll politely say ‘hit and miss’ in their predictions and utterly hilarious! Genius and madness are two side of the same coin after all. Oddly enough, not one of them predicted snowboarding.

1.    Gondola Lifts

Credit given where credit’s due the Emmet Brown crackpots predicted pretty close to the mark with this one! After the creation of one of the first Gondolas in 1920 Chamonix- a huge undertaking; parts had to be hauled up the mountain by hand. It took over 50 men 10 days to move a single piece of machinery 50 metres- In the face of being literal logistical sadism people still clearly thought the idea had potential... Until they botched it by creating a Gondola that was also a bus (Gondobus? Busdola?). It sucked at both and was replaced by buses of the grounded variety in 1956. Can’t fault our neighbours over the pond for trying though.

2.    Flying Toboggans

Yes. Some nutter, Paul Keating, genuinely thought this was an idea that would take off. Sadly neither the idea nor the sledge did, despite claims that he achieved speeds of 200mph... Let me put that in perspective for you: A man lying down. On what is essentially a door with wings on it? Went as fast as a Ferrari Enzo... no. Just no. The toboggan was reduced to wood chips upon crashing into a tree after 20 – 30 runs, though Keating lived to design another day.

3.    Corkscrew Snowmobiles

Corkscrews should be for wine and rollercoasters. Though credit to the science nuts on this one; Soviet Russia genuinely produced a corkscrew drive tank during the land grab for Antarctica; it was slow and moved better sideways... but the crazies did it anyway.


4.    Ice Yachting

These babies can shift it. Yes, the older generation actually pretty accurately predicted this one too Ice Yachting is actually a thing. And what a thing it is! These guys shift it at 80mph. Impressive. But someone should’ve told them you can go faster riding a door.

5.    Propeller Propelled skiers

All kinds of a bad idea. Generally speaking- giant spinning blades anywhere near your person is a very bad idea, unless you have a profession as a sword juggler – still a bad idea. Thankfully, propeller technology is no more and the idea of a propeller skier remains drenched in ridicule. Besides, we have jet powered skiers/boarders now... Much safer.

Aerial bus from popular science magazine 1951
All Images are at the courtesy of the Popular Science Archives.

Popular science magazine cover - January 1939
Credit: Popular Science Archives

Fan assisted skis popular science1939.
Credit: Popular Science Archives