Adaptive Ski Innovator, Pioneer, TV Host Bert Fischer Dies At 87
Norbert “Bert” Fischer, one of the most enthusiastic promoters of skisports and a pioneer in teaching persons with disabilities how to ski, died in Cleveland, Ohio, last month at 87 after a long illness.
Despite his lingering and soon to be fatal illness, Fischer made it to Vail, Colo., during Skiing History Week in April to receive the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Museum’s Pioneer of Skiing Award for his efforts on behalf of disabled skiers. He was inducted into the Disabled Skier’s Hall of Fame in 2000. He received the North American Ski Journalists Golden Quill Award in 1989.
Fischer was a member of the 1948 Hungarian Olympic Team, defecting from his homeland during a ski race in Austria. He came to the United States and settled in the Hungarian community near Cleveland. His wife, Evelyn, died several years ago. They raised three boys.
He was one of the first certified members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and later served as a board member. He worked with Sears Roebuck to partner with clothing manufacturer White Stag to begin outfitting the local ski school.
Fischer was probably the very first ski teacher to work with handicapped children, helping designers create a product known as Ski-EZE that helped them ski parallel. He led Ski Trackers of Ohio, volunteers who taught adaptive skiers for free. He also organized the first handicapped ski race, drawing participants from across the U.S. and Canada.
He was a talented musician, proficient on piano, guitar and harmonica. He wrote the theme song for “Skiing With Bert,” a long-running TV show that appeared on more than 50 NBC affiliates. That song, “Let’s Go Skiing Along Together,” which he performed for anyone who would listen, became a sing-along at each Hall of Fame annual induction.
He also wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music for “My Sentiment,” recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra in London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1971.
What It Means: There are so many unsung and not particularly well-known skiing pioneers that the passing of Bert Fischer stands out. His enthusiasm, sense of fun, and commitment to helping everyone enjoy skiing was unmatched. Sometimes, nice guys finish first. So, let’s go skiing along together next winter in honor of Bert Fischer.