With oompah music filling the air, skiers donning vintage duds, and racers from under 10 to over 90 competing on the slopes, the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup is all about mixing fun and tradition.
This weekend marks the 21st year of the New England Ski Museum event at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway. Proceeds from the Meister Cup help support the NESM, which is headquartered in Franconia, with plans to open a satellite location in North Conway village later this year.
“The race got started as a benefit event back in the days when they passed a hat at board meetings to make ends meet,” said Jeff Leich, NESM executive director. “It was an immediate success, and it’s turned into a real North Conway classic.”
The Meister Cup is named for Austrian skier Hannes Schneider, known as the father of ski instruction and a formative figure in the early years of Cranmore’s development.
Schneider arrived with his family in North Conway in 1939 after the Nazi Anschluss with Austria. He was enlisted by Cranmore founder Harvey Dow Gibson (Schneider’s release from Nazi-imposed house arrest in Austria was orchestrated by Gibson) to run the ski school at the fledgling ski area.
Schneider was instrumental — both directly and indirectly — in teaching innumerable people to ski, including members of the 10th Mountain Division, the famed ski troops of World War II. Among the soldiers of the 10th was Schneider’s own son, Herbert, who would later become owner and general manager of Cranmore.
The 10th has a storied history, and many veterans returned home after the war to significantly influence skiing and ski areas around the country. Current members of the 10th Mountain Division, now based in Fort Drum, N.Y., and WWII veterans of the 10th participate in the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup.
The festivities begin Friday with registration and a reception featuring music by the Bavarian Brothers Band, a Tyrolean-themed buffet dinner, and a torchlight parade. Racing begins Saturday at 10 a,m. The fun continues into the evening with food, awards and a bratwurst party.
For more information about the Meister Cup, visit newenglandskimuseum.org/events/hannes-schneider-meister-cup-race/.
Located in Franconia Notch, at the base of the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, the New England Ski Museum opened in 1982 and comprises permanent exhibits as well as a new exhibit each year on some aspect of ski history. The current exhibit, “The Mountain Troops and Mountain Culture in Postwar America” is on display through May.
The NESM also features Bode Miller’s Olympic medals, on loan from his family, and maintains several collections, including more than 1,000 pairs of skis, over 1,300 books, some 2,600 reels of ski-related film, one of Cannon Mountain’s original tram cars and a Skimobile from Cranmore’s iconic lift.
The museum has a satellite exhibit at the Bretton Woods base lodge and plans to open an additional exhibit space and research library in North Conway village, just south of Schuler Park, by the end of 2017.
The expansion is due, in part, to the success over the last two decades of the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup, Leich said.
More than 60 years after his death, Hannes Schneider, the ultimate skimeister, continues to spread the freude of skiing.
Winter Notes is published on Fridays during ski season. Contact Meghan McCarthy McPhaul at firstname.lastname@example.org.