Ski Industry Legend Herbert Schneider Dies At 92
Herbert Schneider arrived with his family at Cranmore Ski Area in North Conway, N.H., in 1939 when he was 15 years old. The skiing and community legend has died of natural causes at the age of 92.
Hannes Schneider, Herbert’s father, brought his St. Anton-honed ski teaching skills to the region after Harvey Gibson, a New York financier, arranged his escape from the onrushing Anschluss. The elder Schneider had been arrested in Landeck, Austria. A bronze statue of Hannes sits in front of the Cranmore base lodge.
“Herbert, with his family’s background, could have gone anywhere in the world at any time and enjoyed a comfortable ski industry career,” New England Ski Museum Director Jeffrey Leich told SnoCountry.com Monday. “But, he chose to remain in North Conway to become a stalwart figure in the community and the industry.” Schneider was a founder of the New England museum.
Bernie Weichsel, Chair of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, where Herbert was inducted in 1992, told SnoCountry.com, “Herbert was one of our industry’s most iconic figures.
“His legacy was very unique and he touched so many of us with his service in the 10th Mountain Division, his management of the ski school and his work throughout the industry. There are only a very few of these icons left.” Weichsel presented Schneider with his own prestigious BEWI Award in 1999.
Weichsel said Herbert appeared frail last fall when he last saw him and and that Herbert had been unable to attend the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup races for the first time in late spring.
"Herbert Schneider, son of Hannes Schneider ("Father of Modern Skiing") is himself a ski great who rightfully takes his place among the ski industry leaders and luminaries like Toni Matt, Friedel Pfeiffer, and Otto Lang who attended Cranmore's 50th anniversary in 1988," Steve Rice, a former colleague of Herbert's at Cranmore, now an executive at CNL Lifestyle Properties told us.
"A warm and gentle man, Herbie was loved and respected by those fortunate enought to know him or work with him. As GM, he led Cranmore through important growth years and taught generations of skiers about the sport he loved. Herbert exuded pure joy for carving turns under any conditions, and he remained an active skier until late in life. He will be missed by all of us who will attend Cranmore's 75th next winter, whether in person or in spirit!," Rice said.
A famous quote has been bandied around for years when Hannes and his son rode the iconic Skimobile and surveyed their new home ski area: "Well Herbert, it isn’t St. Anton, it isn’t the Arlberg, but we’re going to love it here."
Herbert is credited with carrying on his father’s legacy at Cranmore, while building his own. He took over the ski school after learning English (largely, it is said, by attending Hollywood movies in Conway with fellow Austrian instructors). He became an American citizen and served in the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II, receiving a Bronze Star during intense fighting in Italy.
Herbert was a leader in the ski industry, active in the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the National Ski Areas Association, but was also well respected for his leadership role in the local community, including the Rotary Club. Herbert was an owner and general manager of Cranmore from about 1963 to 1984 and participated in a number of milestone re-enactments of the family arriving in North Conway by train.
What It Means: The list of those who made the ski industry what it is today, as Bernie Weichsel notes, is growing smaller and smaller all the time. But, the impact on our sport of this father and son was enormous. The North Conway Sun put it aptly: “Beloved Valley ski icon Herbert Schneider, 92, former Cranmore general manager/past owner and U.S. Ski Hall of Famer, passed away from natural causes early Sunday morning.”
Photo: Herbert Schneider, courtesy New England Ski Museum