With the first dusting of snow, the Arlberg transforms into its most majestic form: the surrounding mountain ridges gleam white in the sun and the villages fill with some of the world's most discerning skiers. In winter, the Arlberg attracts a crowd that matches its distinguished atmosphere. It has a reputation for elegance, top entertainment off the slopes, and of course excellent skiing. Plus, the region's beauty is striking: when you look out at the ocean of mountaintops while carving through fresh powder, or when you walk the historic villages that huddle in the valleys. It's hard to believe that not too long ago, the Arlberg was an inaccessible and even inhospitable place.
That changed in 1901, when a few enthusiastic young men founded the Ski Club Arlberg - the first of its kind - to celebrate a relatively unknown sport. They were inspired by a “necessity to create a modest meeting place in the Arlberg for friends of this noble pleasure.” The Ski Club Arlberg still exists, but their home base is hardly modest . In the last 100 years, the Arlberg developed from an almost inaccessible collection of Alpine villages to the fifth largest ski resort in the world — all without losing its charming character.
Ski history geeks probably know the Arlberg as “the cradle of Alpine skiing.” Not only did the Ski Club Arlberg pioneer skiing as a leisure sport, but our modern skiing technique was actually invented in the mountains of the Arlberg. A young boy, Hannes Schneider, from Stuben am Arlberg felt that skiing in the traditional telemark style was cumbersome, so he developed a way of going down the mountains in elegant turns. This made skiing accessible to everybody, and as Schneider grew up, he attracted many visitors to the Arlberg who wanted to learn his technique, which we still use now.
In Schneider’s time there was little to the Arlberg apart from a few picturesque mountain villages, which felt secluded and removed from the outside world. Today, thanks to excellent snow conditions and lots of Austrian charm, the Arlberg is one of the world’s premiere winter resorts, with innovative technologies. It was one of the first resorts to construct a gondola in a ski region in 1937, and nowadays it boasts one of the world’s few heated 8-seat gondolas. More recently, another gondola solidified the Arlberg’s status as a top-tier resort: the Flexenbahn transformed it into the world’s fifth largest ski area and the biggest resort in Austria. The Flexenbahn finally closed the circle of historic villages and in a way it's all thanks to pioneers like Hannes Schneider, who blazed the powdery trail.
News for 2020: The World Cup will return to Zürs for the first time in 26 years! The Arlberg has a signifiant World Cup history, but it has taken some time to revive the competition's legacy. Zürs will host men's, women's and team events and provide plenty of entertainment off-piste at its restaurants and bars.
In addition, the Schindlergratbahn lift recently got a major make-over. What used to be a small 3-seater chair lift is now a 68 gondola cable car. This not only makes it more comfortable to navigate Austria's largest ski resort, but opens up access to more slopes for skiers. With a new intermediate station, guests can get off at 2,643 m (8,671 ft) and discover new terrain.