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Realizing the impossible task of running two distant ski schools, Pfeifer tendered his resignation from Sun Valley, during the summer of 1947, and focused his energies solely on the development of Aspen and the running of its ski school.  Pfeifer would become Aspen's primary developer and retire as history’s greatest ski racer; never losing a single slalom competition on American soil.  Pfeifer would also invent the duel-racing format, which is used to this day in many professional racing circuits.  John Litchfield, Sun Valley’s soon to be 5th Ski School Director, ceded his capacity as Aspen's co-director to Pfeifer and returned to instruct in Sun Valley.


Otto Lang immediately replaced Friedl and was given the position of executive ski school director.  With Pfeifer's vigor channeled on Aspen's development solely, it was up to Lang to thwart France's sometimes-ugly attacks on Hannes Schneider and the Arlberg technique.  Lang, who would spend the majority of the 1947-48 ski season producing a movie for Hollywood guru Darryl Zanuck and representing Sun Valley at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz as the resort's goodwill ambassador, had the formidable duty of replacing Friedl Pfeifer with someone of equal stature.  For such a daunting task, Lang turned to his mentor Hannes Schneider in North Conway.  Schneider, who always encouraged his best instructor's to advance themselves, suggested Toni Matt.


Accepting the position of ski school director, Matt ran the school in typical Hannes Schneider fashion-allowing Lang to concentrate his energies on representing Sun Valley at the first Winter Olympics held since 1936. As France's racers, using Emile Allais' new ski techniques, controlled the Men's events, winning three out of the six alpine medals with their star Henri Oreiller (Who won two gold and one bronze), French skiers soon caught the eyes of a world who rapidly acquiring an addiction to alpine skiing.  Not to be out-done, Sun Valley's Arlberg presence would also be felt in St. Moritz as its own Gretchen Fresher - who during the course of her career was coached by Sun Valley Instructor's: Sigi Engle, Otto Lang, and Friedl Pfeifer - took home America's first alpine medals in both the slalom and combined events.    Sun Valley and the United States also accomplish a respectable performance in the racing skills of 15-year-old Andrea Mead.



While the ski school under Toni Matt functioned well, Matt's chances of returning for a second season became unlikely due to his involvement in an adulterous love affair that became public.

Faced with the daunting tasks of again replacing Friedl Pfeifer with someone of equal caliber and thwarting the ever-encroaching presence of the "French Technique" on American ski resorts, Lang came up with a controversial solution, which, to him, solved both problems.  Hire Emile Allais and turn the eyes of the skiing world once again to Sun Valley.  With Allais teaching in Sun Valley for the 1948-49 ski seasons, the long awaited confrontation between the two contrasting turn styles would, after 13 years of lingering, at last have its day in court.  Allais said of his emerging French Technique; "My method is just right for this country, it is loose and free, just like the spirit of you Americans."  Allais' anticipated stateside unveiling garnered such immense publicity that his picture appeared on the front covers of both "Ski" and "Life" Magazines' winter issues.


From the beginner, the "French Technique" was a disaster.  By discarding the stemming of the skies as the basis of learning and eliminating the snowplow, Allais gave the novice skier little in which to acquire a strong foundation for balance.  For the advanced skier, Allies' "Ruade" (lifting the tails of both parallel skies off the snow, which initiated the turn in midair, to head the skies in the opposite direction) lacked the flowing and less taxing coherence of the Arlberg.  Otto Lang said of his instructors as he watched them practice the Ruade, "They reminded me of a flock of bunny rabbits hopping around and frolicking in the snow."  In his later years, Allies would eventually acknowledge the frailties of his "French Technique" as he and Lang skied together near Flaine, France.  Following Allies' tracks down a ski run, Lang shouted "Hey, Emile, what about the Ruade?"  Allais replied, "Extent as the dodo bird."


The close of the 1948-49 ski seasons would see the departure of Allies from Sun Valley to head the ski school of Alex Cushing's newly developed Squaw Valley in California.  Although the "Ruade" never lived up to its expectations of replacing the Arlberg, Allies, - like Hannes Schneider, Averil Harriman, Friedl Pfeifer and Otto Lang, - became a true renaissance man of skiing also. Allais would train and coach the American men's 1952 Olympic team taking it from the bottom ranks of international racing to produce a fifth place in the downhill and sixth in giant slalom.  He also trained dozens of the world's top racers as well as inventing the first non-wood ski used in international racing.  Settling back in Europe following his American assail, Allais eventually became France's technical director for the development of ski resorts.  Otto Lang would also depart to the Stardom of Hollywood and would be replaced by Sun Valley’s first non-Austrian Director.


After the war, Hennig, Haemmerle, and Gottschalk continued to guide guests through the vast lift-less Sun Valley surroundings, however the insurgence of immensely improved transportation up the slopes of Bald mountain as well as tremendous improvements in “alpine” skiing techniques marked the beginning of the end for the “alpine touring” school.  One minor resurgence of Sun Valley’s short-lived “alpine touring” past occurred in the summers of 1947 and 1948 as Harriman and Hennig teamed up to breathe new life into this rapidly fading sport.  In the summer of 1947, after touring the beautifully striking snow-filled bowls of Boulder basin, (one of Hennig’s many “alpine touring” sights) Harriman directed Pat Rogers (Sun Valley’s general manager at the time) to promote spring and summer skiing in Sun Valley.  As a result of this request, one week later, two jeeps were available to transport skiers up to Boulder Basin and for a few weeks, summer “alpine touring” was popular again.



Slalom races were even held on the 4th of July 1948 and covered by Seattle movie tone news.  To encourage this reincarnation even more, Hennig, also at the request of Harriman, began work on Sun Valley’s first, and to date, most comprehensive “alpine touring” guide book.  Published in 1948, “Sun Valley Ski Guide,” authored by Andy Hennig, detailed extensively Sun Valley’s many regions in which to both “alpine” ski and “alpine tour.”  Publications such as this were very popular as well as common in the Alps, and Harriman hoped such a manual might rejuvenate interest in Sun Valley “alpine touring” again; however, this would never come to pass.  The winter of 1952 marked the unofficial end to Sun Valley’s “alpine touring” school as avalanches down Baldy’s Lookout Bowl, claiming the life of Victor Gottschalk, and Bromaghin Peak, destroying the Owl Creek cabin, eulogized a dire end to a historic institution.  While Haemmerle, with his “old gentleman’s club” and Hennig, with his “seasoned ambitious clients,” occasionally “alpine toured” after 1952, this was done without the blessing of Sun Valley company.


Being Sun Valley's first American-born director, John Litchfield had the unenviable task of replacing the skiing geniuses of Austria's Friedl Pfeifer, Otto Land and Hans Hauser while at the same time pioneer new techniques for Sun Valley's aging Arlberg Method during the rapidly changing skiing climate of the 50s.  He did this by hiring the world’s best skiers.  Almost immediately upon winning their Oslo, Norway Olympic emblems, 1952 silver and bronze medalist Christian Pravda, from Austria and gold medalist Stein Eriksen, from Norway (The first male Non-European to win alpine gold), joined Sun Valley’s ski school under John Litchfield and Sigi Engl’s able direction.  American ski great and 1948 Harriman Cup winner, Jack Reddish; Canadian Skiing Hall of Fame member and Olympian, Rene Lafleur and former Hannes Schneider head instructor Rudi Matt, rounded already unprecedented talent.  (Matt would soon return to Austria and head the Austrian Association of Professional Ski Teachers.)


And again, not to be outdone by any 1952 foreign Olympic triumphs, Sun Valley’s Andrea Mead, who in the 1948 played a subordinate role to the Olympic genius of Gretchen Fraser, dominated the Oslo, Norway Olympics with gold medals in both the slalom and giant slalom events.  In 1950, Mead’s dominance in woman’s skiing evolved to a pinnacle as she took command of Sun Valley’s Harriman Cup by winning all three events.  In 1953, she would return and win the Harriman cup for a second time.  Mead also garnered a highly regarded 4th place in Giant Slalom at the 1956 Olympic Games in Cortina, Italy; said games seeing no American Medals.  (Sun Valley’s alpine ski racers would not acquire another Olympic medal till 1972) Mead frequented the slopes of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain in the late 40s and early 50s, as she trained extensively with the skiing magnificence of Pfeifer, Lang, Fraser, Matt, and Engl.


Pravda was one of the first skiers to stand erect on his skies and use edge pressure rather than upper body rotation to make the skis turn.  This stance evolved into the cornerstone of all modern skiing techniques that placed Pravda years ahead of his time with his teaching as well as racing expertise. As an instructor, Pravda was a man of few words.  His students learned by simply following and mimicking his graceful flowing carves.  While Pravda truly dominated the skiing world on paper in the 50s and early 60s, it was Stein Eriksen who caught its attention.  Following Eriksen’s 1952 double Olympic triumphs in Oslo Norway, the American public, as well as the global community, embarked on a common quest, to “Ski like Stein.”  Eriksen’s Hips angulated, reverse shoulder, lock-kneed technique became a national as well as world obsession for men and woman alike. A technique very much borrowed from Kruckenhauser and his “Austrian Ski System.”


Meanwhile, back in Austria Stefan Kruckenhauser, Professor of Biology and Sport at the University of Innsbruck and absolute ruler over the system of training, examining, and certifying Austrian ski teachers in the early 1950’s thru the 70’s, innovated the first true scientific examination of skiing’s evolution resulting from advances in equipment. Through a battery of cameras, and thousands of feet of film of the world’s best skiers, (Sun Valley’s Christian Provda being one of the focal figures) the following analysis was proclaimed.  Kruckenhauser observed that the moving force in Schneider’s stem turn was not shoulder rotation, or the Down-UP-Down motion, but simply a change of weight from one ski to the other, “an edge change.”    From Schneider’s Arlberg Technique to 1928, the year an engineer named Rudulph Lettner patented the first set of steel edges and ski bindings became tighter, distinct changes in skiing technique became evident.  A skier had much better control over his/her skies enabling them to straighten up from their deep Arlberg crouch.  In the Mid-1930”s as Toni Seelos, with his parallel rotation turns (which were faster and more elegant than any stem) and Emile Allais, with his side-slipping, skies-together “Ruade” caught the eyes of the skiing world; these bodily changes became veritably evident.  Kruckenhauser saw that the more upright a person stood, the more relaxed they were, and the more they kept their skies together, less effort was required to make turns.  These conclusions would change ski techniques all over the world.  The new-style turns were made by thrusting the heels in one direction while the shoulders actually turned in the opposite direction as a counterforce for the heel thrust.   Coined “wedeln” or “reverse shoulder rotation,” in the late 50s through the early 1960’s U.S. skiers started to use it with pleasure.


“The New Official Austrian Ski System,” published in the early 1950s and later in 1958 in the United States, pioneered the beginnings of the American Ski Technique and the American Ski System (methods used by most ski institutions in the United States today).  Sun Valley, as in the past, became the proving grounds of its worth as the world’s best skiers flocked to its slopes.


Following his Sun Valley introduction to American soil, he would go on to direct the ski operations in Heavenly Valley California, Aspen Highlands in Colorado, Sugarbush in Vermont and Deer Valley, in Utah.  However, Eriksen’s true genius evolved with his pioneering “free agent” attributes he brought to ensuing Olympic champions.  Following Eriksen’s lead, rather than opt for positions with world famous Ski Schools such as Sun Valley; most Olympic Champions became valuable assets, turning their Olympic triumphs into quick cash endorsements.


With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1953, Litchfield returned to service with the U.S. Army and another of Austria’s international skiing champions claimed the title of Sun Valley ski school director.  Sigi Engl, from Kitzbuhel, ruled Sun Valley’s school for the next quarter century beginning yet another epoch of alpine skiing superiority in instructional ingenuity.  Sigi, through his worldwide racing prominence, equally mirrored his Austrian predecessors, as one of the world’s greatest skiers.  However, during his 21 years as Sun Valley’s ski school director, he became the innovative principal in teaching the U.S. as well as the world how to ski.  For such unprecedented contributions Engl, in 1971, was inducted into the American Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan and in 1975 awarded, by the President of Austria, that country’s Gold Medal of honor for distinguished service to the sport of alpine skiing.  In 1975 Sun Valley Company, at the request of his longtime friend and teaching colleague Konrad Staudinger, honored him by re-naming “No-Name Bowl” on Mount Baldy to “Sigi’s Bowl.”  Engl passed away in 1982 at the age of 71, leaving a legacy equaling that of his friends Hannes Schneider, Friedl Pfeifer and Otto Lang, as one of skiing’s greatest teaching-racing innovators.  His ashes were placed on the ski run which now bears his name.


Like Litchfield, Engle knew the value of an employee, and he kept the eminence of the ski school at a level equaling that of his predecessors through his unrivaled ties to the best of the skiing world.  His first rule of order, choose assistants and head instructors with equaling qualities such as Austrian Ski Champion Sep Froehlich, American Ski Great, Bill Butterfield and Professor Kruckenhauser, Prodigy Konrad Staudinger .


As the team of Engle, Froehlich, Butterfield and “Professor Kruckenhauser” prodigy Konrad Staudinger ensured the sound foundations of Sun Valley’s ski school, Sun Valley itself began to fail.  Harriman, the resort’s founding father, no longer cultivated Sun Valley’s world acclaims as his energies channeled towards the prospects of politics. Following the end of the Second World War, Harriman resigned as Union Pacific’s Chairman of the Board and accepted a position with President Harry Truman’s Administration as secretary of Commerce. While Harriman occasionally dappled in Sun Valley’s affairs, it was clear, with his successes in diplomacy and politics, that his talents would focus else were.  In 1954, Harriman succeeded Republican Thomas Dewey as Governor of New York.  As governor, Harriman played a pivotal role in the development and skiing operations of New York’s Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid.  Lake Placid hosted the 1932 Winter Olympic Games (said games being void of alpine skiing events) and the 1980 Olympic Games.  Whiteface Mountain serviced the majority of the 1980 alpine skiing venues and to-date possesses the greatest vertical drop of any eastern ski mountain. Harriman would only serve one term as governor until republican Nelson Rockefeller defeated him in 1958.  In 1952 and again in 1956 Harriman vied for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency.  Endorsed by former President Truman in 1956, Harriman was defeated on both occasions by Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson.


With Sun Valley’s main cheerleader no longer onboard, the infrastructure of the resorts amenities no longer kept pace with competing entities such as Aspen Colorado, Lake Placid New York and Squaw Valley California.  However, the reputation of Sun Valley’s Austrian Ski School Director, his instructors and the dominance his God Son, Anton Tony Sailer in the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy again established a world accepted ski instructional supremacy.  Sailer was born November 17, 1935, in Engl’s hometown of Kitzbuhel, Austria.  Known as the “Blitz from Kitz” Sailer is considered among the best ever in alpine skiing history and was slated from birth to become an Instructor with his God Father’s ski school in the states. Sailer would be the first human to win Gold Medals in the three alpine disciplines of Slalom, Giant Slalom and Downhill at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina, Italy.  In 1958, Sailer dominated the World Championships in Bad Gasten, Austria with three Gold and one Silver.



Developing his skiing skills in an Austrian dominated by the instructional genius of Professor Kruckenhauser, Sailer, and his team members vindicated an Austrian dominance of world alpine skiing; an ascendancy not seen since pre-World War II years.  Austrian alpine skiers acquired more than twice as many medals than any other country in said games. Sailer’s Gold Medal winning technique predominantly mirrored the skiing skills of Kitzbuhel’s/ Sun Valley’s Christian Pravda with a more vertical stance and a turning impetuous culminating from a transfer of weight with an early edge change.  Sailer would never fulfill his Sun Valley prophecies of becoming a ski instructor, rather opting for the stardom of Hollywood where he appeared in a handful of skiing movies and films. Sailer did, however, visit his God Father on the slopes of Sun Valley on several occasions and in 1959 dominate the Harriman Cup by sweeping the Slalom, Downhill, and Combined events.


Moving into the early 1960s, American Ski Resorts other than Sun Valley begin flexing their developmental muscles.  Ski Areas across the country all made gigantic moves at acquiring a greater slice of a growing American Alpine Skiing Market.  Friedl Pfeifer’s Aspen rapidly acquired a global notoriety as it hosted the first FIS World Championships held outside the European Continent in 1950.


Pfeifer and Iselin in Aspen

Toni Matt



Otto Lang




Allais and Lang Skiing in Sun Valley

Sun Valley’s 1948-49 Ski School / and their Autographs

The Ruade

Boulder Basin Lake June 2008

Boulder Basin Lake July 1948

Ski School’s Tribute to their fallen comrade,  Victor Gottschalk










Stein in Sun Valley

Hip Angulation



Froehlich                       Engl                                 Staudinger

Staudinger             Butterfield                              Engl                   Froehlich


Eriksen and Sailer in Aspen

Sailer in Cortina

Sailer in Cortina