St. Anton am Arlberg is rightly proud of its status as the "cradle of alpine skiing" and has seen countless wintersports enthusiasts progress from tentative beginners to confident cruisers and sure-footed experts.
Goodness knows what old school skiing legends such as Hannes Schneider would say about modern carving skis with their extreme radius or snowboarders with their new fangled sideways stance. It is not only the equipment which has changed since the 1920s – the language employed today to describe the act of sliding down a slope is also a very different one. The “stem turn” Schneider once learnt as a child in his home village of Stuben am Arlberg has long been replaced in ski instructor jargon by “pizza slice”? However, all in all it is likely that this pioneer of skiing would be delighted with the way “his” sport has developed in the 60 years since his death.
St. Anton is proud of its reputation as the cradle of alpine skiing – and rightly so. One of the men who helped build the resort’s legendary status was Hannes Schneider, who set up the St. Anton Ski School in 1922 and taught the at that time revolutionary stem turn instead of the traditional telemarking technique. What is also true is that the people of St. Anton, traditionally a very poor farming community on a mountain pass high above the valley floor, recognised earlier than others the potential of international ski tourism. The first hotel in the village opened way back in 1895 and was equipped with 110 beds and luxurious mod cons such as central heating.
Today, the village of St. Anton and its neighbouring communities on both sides of the Arlberg pass in Tirol to the east and Vorarlberg to the west form one of the biggest and most popular ski areas in the world.