Austria is known for many things and top among the list is skiers and skiing. From Hermann Maier to the Arlberg technique, these are all uniquely tied to this small Alpine Country. It can be said Austria's influence far exceeds its size.
It has been claimed that the US would not have a ski industry if not for Austria. I would say the world would not have a ski industry if not for Austria. Alf Engen at Alta, Pepe Stiegler at Sun Valley & Portillo Chile. And the list goes on.In the early 20th century, when skiing was in its early stage of development, Austrian skiers, with their pioneer spirit and love of adventure and challenge, were strongly welcomed in the United States, South America and New Zealand. Whether as racers, instructors, developers of new skiing areas or coaches of some of the worlds’ top ski teams, they introduced the art and enjoyment of skiing as a recreational sport, and in the process, brought Austrian Alpine culture to the World. These ‘Austrian Alpine ambassadors’ became defining figures in the history of skiing in North America and their names are associated with some of America’s finest resorts, such as Sugar Bowl, Stowe, Sun Valley, Aspen, Vail and Jackson Hole. In South America at Portillo, Chile and Los Lenas Argentina.
Beginning in the 1930s with Hannes Schneider (1890 - 1955), known as the “Father of Modern Alpine Skiing.” In the early 1900s at his famous ski school in St. Anton, Austria, he developed the first uniform method of instruction known as the ‘Arlberg technique,’ which later dominated the world of skiing. Once in the United States, he had a long association with the well-known ski area, Mt. Cranmore in North Conway, New Hampshire and under his influence many of his students became some of the world’s most legendary skiers and instructors.
From 1931 to 1971 Professor Stefan Kruckenhauser (1905 - 1988) and his ski instructors dominated and influenced the world of ski techniques. The Austrian Professor of Sport and Biology at the State Ski School St. Christoph am Arlberg had developed a new skiing method (widely known as “wedeln”). American developers of ski resorts encouraged Austrians, such as Othmar Schneider, Pepi Gramshammer and Pepi Stiegler, to be the coaches and instructors of this Austrian Alpine skiing technique at some of America’s largest and best-known resorts such as Aspen. This also happened in South America. Portillo in Chile and Los Lenas in Argentina are two prime examples of Ski Resorts that embrace all things Austrian.
Austria is the home of Modern Skiing. So as winter approaches you should consider heading out skiing. In approximately two weeks I will start writing about my experiences and reviews of the Ski Resorts I have visited here. Read my reviews and plan your trip(s).
History of skiing
Austria’s Influence on American Skiing
Austria’s Famous Instructors
The Arlberg Technique