U.S. Ski Hall of Fame Inducts Four

A ski coach, resort builder, ski-teaching pioneer, and Olympic medalist form the Class of 2005.

Transcription from Skiing Heritage – Journal of ISHA, Sep. 29, 2005

Ski Hall of Fame Inducts Four

The U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame will honor its Class of 2005 on January 27, 2006 in Ishpeming, Michigan. The following accounts of their lives, achievements, and contributions to the sport are based on biographies ssubmitted to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

Walter Foeger,
Ski Teacher, Theoretician

Walter Foeger, the general manager and ski school director at Jay Peak, Vermont, from 1956 to 1968, created one of the most popular parallel alternative approaches to teaching skiing in U.S. history. It was a teaching method that spread to a dozen ski schools in the northeastern U.S., all using Foeger’s ‘Natur Teknik’ over a period of years, the largest such alternative movement to date.

Foeger arrived on the American ski scene from Austria in 1956 and, within a short time, had created a nerwork of ski schools in the Northeast that eliminated the stem turn as a learning tool and taught parallel skiing from the beginning. His approach sparked a great deal of public notice, as well as enormous professional opposition. It took bold, almost over-riding ambition to even consider revolutionizing ski teaching. Yet Foeger proceeded without a trace of modesty to wage war in order to gain acceptance for his unorthodox theories against an entrenched and well-heeled establishment.

It inspired the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) to retool its teaching theory in order to facilitate more rapid advancement toward the ultimate recreational skier’s goal of parallel skiing. That healthy development is Walter Foeger’s legacy. Now 88, Foeger is retired and living in Vienna, Austria.

Erich Sailer,
Coach, Race Program Founder

Many coaches in America have made their mark – nationally and internationally – on alpine ski racing, but the coach with the most significant continuing impact on the sport in America over the past half century is Erich Sailer.

Sailer has, during his still ongoing coaching career, founded four popular racing programs and produced U.S. Ski Team members in each of his five decades of implanting cutting-edge race technique in young American racers. He has coached more than 25,000 young skiers at four locations: at his home resort of Buck Hill, Minnesota, and at ski camps he founded at Mt. Hood, Oregon, Red Lodge, Montana, and Hintertux, Austria. Skiers from his Buck Hill program have won eight World Cup Races, 15 have made the U.S. Ski Team and four have made U.S. Olympic teams. Sailer’s racing pupils have gone on to win nine national titles, 20 college championships and more than 50 became college All-Americans. Erich, at 79, will still be at it this coming season, and no one knows for how many more.

Darcy Brown,
Aspen Patriarch

Venerable overseer of the Aspen Skiing Co., Darcy Brown held the helm of the resort longer than anyone. He put his stamp of firmness, business sense, and honesty on what had often been an amateur operation. He was not always popular with the town of Aspen, but he was even-handed and certainly not easily swayed.

Darcy played a significant role in the founding of the National Ski Areas Association. His rule over the Aspen Skiing Corp. was substantial in influencing the development of the U.S. winter resort industry; he was the first to develop nearby mountains (Buttermilk, Snowmass) in order to offer a wider range of terrain, the first to invest in a distant resort (Breckenridge) and run it from a central corporate office, and the first to offer skiing discounts for seniors.

Darcy’s reputation was known coast to coast on the same level as Averell Harriman at SunValley and Cornelius Starr at Stowe. He was a highly skilled executive who ran what was for many years the biggest operation in the ski business. Darcy is now retired and lives at his home in Aspen in the summer, and in Denver in the winter.

Hilary Lindh,
Downhill Olympian

When Eaglecrest Ski Area opened on an island off the coast of Alaska’s capital city, Hilary Lindh was 7 and starting to focus on alpine skiing as her career in life. That would pay off when Lindh became one of this nation’s most successful downhill racers.

Lindh was walloping everyone in her ski racing age group as she moved into her teens, and, as she once explained, ‘l had to go somewhere else to stay challenged.’

Lindh’s first World Cup victory came in 1992 at Sierra Nevada, Spain. She followed that a few weeks later by capturing the Olympic silver medal in downhill at Meribel, France, the women’s alpine venue for the Albertville Winter Games. Midway through the 1993 season, she injured a knee in a World Cup race, but Lindh was healthy by the 1995 season and won two of the season’s first three downhills. By year end, she was second to Picabo Street in season-long World Cup downhill standings.

Hilary retired briefly but returned in 1997 to put an exclamation point on her career in dramatic fashion, winning the FIS World Championship downhill gold medal at Sestriere, Italy – the only U.S. medal at the 1997 World championships. She ended the season by retiring after amassing one of this country’s most distinguished alpine ski racing careers. Now 36, she recently married and has made a career change – from ski coaching to work in the environmental field in Whistler, B.C.

Transcription from Skiing Heritage – Journal of ISHA, Sep. 29, 2005