St. Anton am Arlberg has made a name for itself as the “cradle of skiing”. It was here that the first ski school in the region was founded, run by Hannes Schneider, the inventor of the legendary Arlberg technique.
The ski history of St. Anton am Arlberg began earlier than that with the work of a Norwegian engineer between 1880 and 1884. He had arrived in the Tyrol to build the Arlberg tunnel, but the locals remembered something else: the two boards with which he glided through the snow to work.
The Arlberg Ski Club was founded by six friends at the start of the 1900s after an excursion on skis through the snow up to the Arlberg pass and the hamlet of St Christoph.
Next to Hannes Schneider, a second name has become an integral part of St. Anton’s history: Karl Schranz, who is known as the “father of the World Cup” by everyone. Born in St. Anton, he has won almost all sporting awards as a top skier, was world champion three times and won the overall World Cup twice.
He dreamed of an Alpine World Ski Championships in his home village. A dream that came true on 28 January 2001, when the skiing world elite met in the Tyrolean mountain village to find the best of the best.
St. Anton has always been an international meeting place for the ski society, the snow-hungry winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Today, St. Anton am Arlberg blends village tradition with international flair to create a charming atmosphere which attracts more than a million overnight stays each year.
It’s not just the alpine charm, but the magnificent style of the Fin de Siècle architecture which characterises the atmosphere in Bad Gastein. Once popular with monarchs, nobles, industrialists and artists, the spa hosted Alpine World Ski Championships back in 1958.
Today it is naturally popular because of its great skiing area, but Art on Snow, the largest winter art spectacle in the Alps with works of art made of snow and ice, also attracts visitors every year in January.
Schladming enjoys international fame as a winter sports resort not least thanks to two Alpine World Ski Championships, over 30 World Cup races and the Special Olympics.
However, many inhabitants still remember the rise of the community to a legendary winter sports resort. For example, senior hotel manager Rudi Stocker: “My brother and I built the first snow groomer from a tractor,” he smiles. “We simply mounted a large wooden shovel on it.”
Rudi’s father took the guests up the mountain in an ox cart, and the first ski slope in the region was beaten by hand in 1960. Even if the technology has changed fundamentally since then, the Schladming pistes enjoy international cult status.