Inventing Alpine Skiing Pioneers of the Arlberg

At the beginning of the last century, the time on the Arlberg was ripe for inventions that changed the skiing world.

Hannes Schneider Sk Pioneer, 1890 – 1955

Hannes Schneider, Ski Pioneer
With verve and elegance

Johann Baptist Hannes Schneider came to skiing as eight year-old boy in winter 1898/99 after he watched the ski pioneer Viktor Sohm from Dornbirn performing a strange activity: Not only that he used his ski to move over the snow, but being pleased by the speed and just having lots of fun.

Hannes Schneider managed to get a custom pair of ski from a local sledgebuilder. With them he went just about everything from what came under the boards to him. Later he became also Victor Sohm students.

During Sohms time ski technique was prevailed by the Kristiana Bow and the so called Lilienfelder Skiing Technique (in V-position driven stem turn with stick) of Mathias Zdarsky. Hannes Schneider broke with this tradition:

Schneider's Arlberg technique (stem turn, small bows, two poles and the deep squat) was likely taken from Colonel Georg Bilgeri, another of the Arlberg ski pioneer) improved body control and thus also the driving skill opportunities in alpine environment. "Skiing is the easiest thing in the world" he said. And indeed: With his technology skiing looked so obvious and evident that many took off their fear of the ski sport and ventured on the boards.

One must bow before Hannes Schneider for bringing an essential element to skiing: Elegance! Which is not too hard to imagine if you think of the Telemark style (where elegance is quite a different category).

The Show Goes On
Based on his great success Schneiders started a film career. Films such as The White Rush made alpine skiing popular (and the film location St. Anton am Arlberg as well). In memory of Hannes Schneider annually a very demanding downhill race is held.

Schneider's success is closely linked with the name of the cable car pioneer Rudolf Gomperz. Schneider not being a man of the word it was Gomperz merit making the Arlberg Technique popular in the magazines.

Today there are Schneider monuments in Stuben at his birthplace, in St. Anton am Arlberg and at several locations in Japan and in North Conway (United States).