Cranmore Mountain Resort owner and manager Herbert Schneider will be honored with the Spirit of Skiing award at the New England Ski Museum's 32nd annual meeting Oct. 31 at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson, N.H.
The "Spirit of Skiing Award" was created by the Ski Museum to honor an individual or group who embodied the words of German immigrant Otto Schniebs that "skiing is not just a sport, it is a way of life." Schniebs came to America in 1927 and taught skiing to Dartmouth Outing Club members, the AMC, the Lake Placid Club, and elsewhere.
Herbert Schneider told OnTheSnow.com that his father had never seen him ski until the day in 1939 the two took their first run together down the slopes of Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, N.H.
"My father didn't have any idea how I skied. I had learned in St. Anton - there's nothing to do after school except ski - so I would ski, but never with my father, always with a ski instructor. At age 11 I was sent to a prep school. I came home on vacation, and would ski, but my father was always busy then with ski school and we never skied together," Herbert said.
Hannes Schneider is credited with establishing the first system to teach skiing, by analyzing the mechanics of the sport so that his famed Arlberg technique could be taught to others.
"It was said of my father that, when he was a young man, there were a lot of good skiers but Hannes Schneider was the only one who took the time to break down what he was doing, and to create a method to teach it to anybody in the sport," Herbert said.
Hannes and family came to America in 1939, after he spent time in a Nazi jail. He introduced the Arlberg technique to generations of American skiers. Hannes Schneider died in 1955.
"I appreciate that my father is still remembered in the ski industry, especially his role in creating almost 100 years ago how to teach the sport of skiing," Herbert said.
Father and son span more than a century of skiing.
"I would say equipment has seen the biggest changes. When I started, it was wooden skis without steel edges, and leather boots. I've seen the whole development of equipment, since Mr. Head came out with metal skis, and Franz Kneissl II came out with White Stars. Then came parabolics," he said.
"New equipment made things always easier, but myself I have used them very little. I wanted to turn when I wanted to turn, not when my skis wanted to turn. But it certainly has helped people learn how to ski and to enjoy the sport," Herbert said.
The New England Ski Museum annual meeting will include a silent auction for a five-night Deer Valley lift and lodging winter vacation package for four, donated by Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
Some of the first ski lessons taught by the American Branch of the Hannes Schneider Ski School were given on the golf course of the Eagle Mountain House in the winter of 1937, just yards from the podium where Herbert Schneider will be honored, a press release from the Ski Museum stated.
"Herbert Schneider's life in St. Anton, Austria before 1939, and in North Conway, NH since then, paralleled and exemplified the development of the international ski industry. As a youth in pre-war Austria, as a soldier in the American 10th Mountain Division, and as a ski instructor and ski area operator, Herbert Schneider witnessed and participated in the growth of skiing as a sport and a business.
"When Schneider arrived in the U.S. in February 1939 with his family, he spoke no English and had never taught a ski lesson, despite being the son of the progenitor of the Arlberg ski instruction technique. The language barrier came down within a month or two thanks to Schneider's frequent visits to the North Conway movie theater with the other Austrian instructors in town. He taught his first ski lesson to C.V. Starr, the insurance magnate who would come to own Mount Mansfield, and who built AIG into a worldwide company.
"As the son of the pioneer developer of ski instruction, Herbert Schneider was literally the second generation of businessmen making a living from skiing. He realized the need to adapt to the rapid developments in skiing that changed the ski business landscape since the heyday of Hannes Schneider's ski school in the 1930s, and he led Mount Cranmore through its transition to a modern ski resort. More on the life of Herbert Schneider, as well as other articles on ski history, can be found on the Museum's Web site," the release stated.
Herbert Schneider will join Stein Eriksen, Tom Corcoran, and SE Group as winners of the Spirit of Skiing honor.
The Ski Museum welcomes the public at the event. The cost of the dinner is $65 per person.
More information. Or call for reservations 800-639-4181.