Thursday, November 13, 2008

Johannes “Hannes” Schneider

Johannes “Hannes” Schneider was born in 1890 in Stuben am Arlberg, Austria. Hannes was the son of a road maintenance worker. In 1907 he became a guide at the Hotel Post in St. Anton, Austria where he began work on what became known as the Arlberg Technique for skiing. The Arlberg technique was borne of the “Stem” Technique developed by Mathias Zdarsky in the late 1800’s, replacing the telemark technique (now experiencing a revival with a form of skiing by the same name.

Schneider added various elements including the snowplow turn and the stem Christie and the parallel turn to create the Arlberg technique.

Schneider served his country with distinction in World War I as a ski instructor for the Austrian Army after which he returned to teaching skiing at the Post.

In 1939 Hitler’s army overran Schneider’s beloved Austria and Hannes was arrested and jailed.

Already a figure of international stature, Schneider’s arrest led to a concerted effort among US Citizens to obtain his freedom. One of those individuals was Harvey Gibson, born in North Conway and then president of Manufacturer’s Trust. Gibson obtained Schneider’s release and Schneider left Austria and came to North Conway.

Legend, at least, holds that he wasn’t yet finished with Hitler though. Schneider would not only become the father of modern day skiing in America but he may also have acted as an advisor to those training the legendary 10th Mountain Division of the US Army in which his son Herbert served. Though the details are sketchy, there is evidence of several Washington trips and meetings that give some credibility to this legend, though it is unlikely that we will ever know for certain.

1 comment:

  1. I can remember as a kid checking a book out of the N Conway Public Library which was an biography of either Schneider or Harvey Dow Gibson -- I think it would shed light on this