Hannes Schneider

Johann "Hannes" Schneider (June 24, 1890 April 26, 1955) was an Austrian Ski instructor of the first half of the twentieth century.

Hannes Schneider
Hannes Schneider in Japan in 1930
Johann Schneider

(1890-06-24)June 24, 1890
Stuben am Arlberg, Austria
DiedApril 26, 1955(1955-04-26) (aged 64)
Occupationski school instructor/director
Known forArlberg Technique, St. Anton ski school
AwardsInducted US Ski Hall of Fame (1958)

He was born in the town of Stuben am Arlberg in Austria as a son of a farmer who also kept a few cows that provided fresh milk for local cheesemakers. His father was also a road supervisor tasked with keeping the crucial Arlberg Pass open during the winter months. It was his father's hopes that Hannes would becomes a cheesemaker.

He first observed skiing in 1900 when Viktor Sohm.[1] visited his town of Studen. Legend has it that Schneider made his first pair of skis from an old barrel. In reality, He took measurements of Sohm's skis and had a local barrel maker craft him a pair of skis. Sohm took Schneider under his wings during his winter visits to the Arlberg region. Schneider became more proficient on his skis and soon gained a reputation for his skills, winning many local races.

In 1907, he was offered a spot as an apprentice cheesemaker, much to the delight of his parents. However an offer to teach skiing at a hotel in Les Avant, Switzerland opened his families eyes to the possibility that one could make a living skiing. The hotel had a vibrant summer business. but few visitors in the winter.

Word of the offer spread throughout the towns of his region and he was offered a similar arrangement at the Hotel Post in St Anton am Arlberg. Karl Schuler, owner of the Hotel Post knew this was an opportunity to position St Anton as a major ski resort for the growing sport.

While at St Anton, Schneider developed the basics of ski instruction known as the Hannes Schneider Arlberg Ski Technique and Method of Teaching" or simply the Arlberg Technique. This is still used today as foundation of teaching alpine skiing. Many of the early pioneers of alpine skiing passed through Schneider's school as instructors, including Luiggi Foger, Rudi Matt, Benno Rybizka and Otto Lang who went on to open ski schools in the USA at Mt Rainer, Mt. Hood and Mt Baker and ran the Sun Valley Ski School for many years.

Schneider was drafted into the Austrian Army in 1908, but was reassigned to the Reserves after a few months when the town fathers of St Anton claimed that his ski school had become crucial in the Arlberg region. Schneider did serve as a ski instructor for the Austrian army during the First World War,[2] he returned to the Hotel Post. In 1920 he appeared in a documentary film based on the Arlberg technique;[3] he formed a semi-independent ski school where by 1924 he had formalized his method of instruction. In 1928 he helped organize the international Arlberg-Kandahar alpine race at St. Anton.

In the inter war period he also appeared in several more of Dr. Arnold Fanck's ski films. Der weiße Rausch, which helped make skiing popular, was filmed at the Arlberg in the winter of 1930/1931. He also co-wrote a best-selling instruction book (with Fanck), named Die Wunder des Schneeschuhs which became translated to English as The Wonders of Skiing in 1931. Former students of Hannes Schneider include Otto Lang, Friedl Pfeifer, and Toni Matt .

In 1939 he moved his operations to Cranmore Mountain Ski Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire. He had run into trouble with Nazi policies and even spent time in jail after the Anschluss. During the Second World War he helped train the 10th Mountain Division of the U. S. Army in which his son Herbert served. Hannes became a member of the US Ski Hall of Fame in 1958.[4]

The New England Ski Museum hosts the Hannes Schneider Meister Skiing Cup in his memory every March at Cranmore Mountain resort. During 2005 the New England Ski Museum featured an exhibit on the life of Hannes Schneider and his impact on the sport of skiing.

Selected filmography


  1. Allen, E. John B., (2007) The Culture and Sport of Skiing: From Antiquity to World War II. Amherst, MA, USA: University of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 978-1558496002 pg 261
  2. Lunn, Peter (1983) Guinness Book of Skiing Sterling Publishing Co ISBN 0-85112-219-1 pg 31
  3. Hannes Schneider at filmportal.de
  4. Hannes Schneider at US National Ski Hall of Fame
  • Fanck, Arnold; Schneider, Hannes (1925) Wunder des Schneeschuhs; ein System des richtigen Skilaufens und seine Anwendung im alpinen Geländelauf Hamburg: Gebrüder Enoch OCLC 10252521
  • Pfeifer, Emil Armin (1934) Hannes Schneider's hohe Schule des Skilaufs Alpensportverl.
  • Schneider, Hannes (1935) Auf Schi in Japan Tyrolia-Verlag
  • Rybizka, Benno (1938) The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique Harcourt, Brace
  • Schneider, Hannes (ed.) (1940) The Northland Ski Manual Northland Ski Manufacturing Company
  • Frank, Virginia Katherine (1957) Hannes Schneider: His Life and His Contributions to Skiing Smith College, Northampton, Mass. OCLC 34990536
  • Fairlie, Gerard (1957) Flight Without Wings. The Biography of Hannes Schneider London: Hodder and Stoughton
  • "Schneider's Films" Skiing Magazine (Feb. 1961) p. 64
  • Cohen, Stan (1985) A Pictorial History of Downhill Skiing Pictorial Histories Pub. Co ISBN 0-933126-55-7 pp 24–25
  • Thöni, Hans (1990) Hannes Schneider: zum 100. Geburtstag des Skipioniers und Begründers der Arlberg-Technik Tyrolia-Verlag ISBN 9783702217792
  • Lund, Morten (Spring 1993) "Films of Hannes Schneider" Skiing Heritage Vol 5 #1:8-11
  • Legacy: Austria's influence on American skiing. Part 1: Hannes Schneider & his disciples (2005) retrospective film by Ian Scully, Rick Moulton; Culture Films OCLC 76765013
  • Killy and Vierhaus (eds) (2005) Dictionary of German Biography Walter de Gruyter ISBN 9783110966299 pg 56
  • Thöni, Hans (2007) Schneider, Hannes in: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Band 23, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3
  • Lang, Otto (1994): A Bird of Passage. SkyHouse Publishers, ISBN 1-57510-026-6
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