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Carve Down the Slopes Where Skiing Was Invented

Austria is the cradle of modern skiing. A young skiing instructor in St. Anton am Arlberg invented the technique we still use today to go down mountains.

Looking at the smooth slopes of the Austrian Alps, it’s no surprise that it took a Tirolean to invent modern skiing. While people have been racing down powdered mountains for centuries, it wasn’t until Hannes Schneider that skiing became a pastime with any semblance of elegance. Schneider was born in 1890 in Arlberg - now Austria’s largest ski resort - to a cheesemaker father, and grew up in a time when the region was impoverished and inaccessible. As a ski teacher in iconic St. Anton he developed the Arlberg technique, the kind of parallel swings that propel us down the mountain today.

  • An evening in St. Anton on Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Wolfgang  Burger An evening in St. Anton on Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Wolfgang Burger
  • The commuter cable railway valley station of the Galzigbahn in St. Anton am Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Wolfgang  Burger The commuter cable railway valley station of the Galzigbahn in St. Anton am Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Wolfgang Burger
  • Freerider in St. Anton © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Josef Mallaun Freerider in St. Anton © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Josef Mallaun
  • Mountainview in St. Anton am Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Josef Mallaun Mountainview in St. Anton am Arlberg © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Josef Mallaun
  • Skiing in St. Anton © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Patrick Säly Skiing in St. Anton © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Patrick Säly
Hannes Schneider developed many modifications to the then-popular Telemark style of skiing. The technique that stuck revolutionized the method of moving across the slope in swings, rather than going straight down the mountain. Word quickly spread about young Schneider’s invention in the early 1900s. German filmmaker Arnold Fanck even made an instructional movie about the Arlberg technique starring its inventor, which brought both Schneider and his swing style to fame. Soon, ski schools in resorts around Europe adopted the Arlberg technique, and people were swinging down the slopes like Schneider in no time.

This modern style of skiing became so popular that Schneider even traveled to the US to present it in front of American winter sport professionals. But nothing beats the pristine, sweeping slopes that inspired Hannes Schneider in the first place. The Arlberg has unparalleled conditions and a winter sport culture unlike anywhere else in the world. Historic St. Anton and Lech offer all the perks of a top Alpine resort, but charm visitors with a family-run atmosphere and deeply rooted skiing tradition.

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