Othmar Schneider died suddenly on Dec. 24. Raised in Lech on theArlbergPass, he won the Lauberhorn downhill and combined in 1951 and 1952, plus gold in slalom and silver in downhill at the Oslo Olympics. Had there been a combined medal at those games, he would have had that gold medal too.
Schneider arrived in the United Statesthat spring and taught in the Stowe ski school. After a succession of injuries he retired from racing in 1956, and took a degree in chemistry. He coached theU.S.men’s team in 1958, and, at the Squaw Valley Olympics coached both the Austrian and Chilean teams.
In 1961 Schneider succeeded Stein Eriksen as ski school director atBoyne,Mich., and held the same job atPortillo,Chile. In 1962, Sears Roebuck launched a line of Othmar Schneider ski gear; Schneider arranged for Volkl, Fischer, Marker, Look and a number of Italian factories to make the equipment, and trained non-skiing Sears sales clerks to sell it. He wrote many ski-instruction articles for SKI Magazine.
In 1968, Schneider returned to Lech and built the four-star Hotel Kristiania, named forOslo, the site of his Olympic victories. He married Irmgard Huber, and began a successful career selling steel edges to most of the ski factories inAustria,Germanyand theUnited States.
He also took up tennis and target-shooting, winning the bronze medal in pistol-shooting at the 1974 world championship.
Right up until his death, Schneider was a genial host at the Kristiania. He’ll be remembered as a graceful role model for the American ski industry.