Last week I wrote about the challenges of leather ski boots. That was triggered by people’s reaction to a collection of older ski boots the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum had on display at the Killington World Cup. That collection also included some of the early plastic ski boots which were introduced in 1965. There was the Lange boot, a familiar name today, but there was also a less familiar name: Rosemount!
The Rosemount company located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was (and is) a high tech company that in the 50’s and 60’s specialized in making sensors for supersonic jet aircraft and missiles. The company’s president and founder was Frank Werner who like many of us got hooked on skiing. He was an inventor and recognized an opportunity for technology to produce a better ski boot. Since the company was looking to diversify into more consumer-oriented products, Werner somehow was able to convince his company to make a plastic ski boot.
The Rosemount was not like any other ski boot and it did not look like any other ski boot. It incorporated some ideas that were ahead of their time: easy side entry, built-in cant adjustments, and flex adjustments. Granted that last one literally involved elastic bands – there were different sets of elastic bands for soft, medium, or stiff forward flex.
However the way you had to fit the boot to your foot perhaps wasn’t ahead of its time. There were pockets inside the boot where you could place pillows filled with a secret flow material. Once you got the pillows right, the fit was good, but getting them right was a trial-and-error process. Oh, and rumor has it that you didn’t get enough of the pillows with the boot to guarantee a fit. So the company sold a not-cheap fitting kit that included more pillows.
Rosemount owners tended to have a love/hate relationship with their boots. Benny Wax of Inner Bootworks remembers sitting beside a trail at Hunter Mountain with his Rosemount boots off and his sock-covered feet stuck in the snow because they hurt so much! But he actually liked the boot once he got the fit correct.
From a business perspective there was another problem with the Rosemount: the cost of making a pair of boots was twice the selling price! This led to Rosemount selling its ski boot division to G. H. Bass in 1968. The boot name stayed Rosemount, but was no longer part of the Rosemount Company.
G. H. Bass also became a U. S. distributor for Raichle ski boots. The Raichle Fiber Jet (aka “The Red Hot”) was in direct competition with the Rosemount as a uniquely designed plastic ski boot. In fact there were accusations that the Fiber Jets had “borrowed” some of their design from Rosemount. This may have been resolved by Raichle paying Bass to acquire Rosemount in 1972.
At the Killington World Cup we had six people who had actually owned Rosemount ski boots stop by to reminisce over the pair we had displayed! I joked that I didn’t even think Rosemount had sold six pairs of boots! But obviously Rosemount has earned its place in skiing history.
I first wrote about Rosemount over ten years ago, since then Frank Werner has passed away. He died in 2016 at the age of 94!
In 1970 Werner left the company he had founded in Minnesota and moved to Jackson Hole! He served on the Board of Directors of the Jackson Hole ski area and was even the Fire Chief in Teton Village! He did continue inventing with patents covering an amazing range of things: solar energy heating, fastener systems, windshield repair, and golf club design!