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Skiing: Pioneers in the field of Alpine skiing, the Austrians have always played a leading role in skiing in general. Skiing originated in Norway and was introduced to the Alpine region around 1870, where it underwent important changes. Austria played a decisive role in the development of skiing techniques, and in 1889, M. Kleinoschegg from Graz was the first Alpine skier to use Scandinavian skis (now in the ski museum at Mürzzuschlag) and to ski down the Austrian Alps together with T. Schruf (they climbed and skied down Hochschwab mountain in winter 1895). Kleinoschegg was soon joined by W. v. Arlt in Salzburg and by V. Sohm in Vorarlberg; the latter also manufactured winter sports goods. In 1893, the first international skiing race in Austria was held at Mürzzuschlag. In his skiing instruction book "Die Alpine (Lilienfelder) Lauftechnik" ("The Alpine (Lilienfeld) Skiing Technique") of 1897, M. Zdarsky described a skiing technique which he had developed for Alpine terrain. Zdarsky used shorter skis than the Norwegians, a stiff metal sole binding with a spring whereby the foot was also fixed at the sides ("Lilienfeld binding") and a long ski pole without disk. The Lilienfeld technique was further improved by G. Bilgeri, who combined elements of the Norwegian and Lilienfeld techniques. Bilgeri used skis with a shallow groove running lengthwise along the centre of the bottom to give directional stability; he helped the twin ski pole and stemming techniques become established alongside the telemark turn and improved the equipment used in skiing and Alpine disciplines (crampons, ski waxes, sealskins with a special binding for climbing mountains); Bilgeri also taught skiing to the Austrian local police forces. His skiing technique was further developed by H. Schneider, who established an internationally famous ski school in St. Anton am Arlberg in 1922. Through A. Fanck´ s book "Wunder des Schneeschuhs" ("Miracle of the Snowshoe", 1925, written in cooperation with H. Schneider) the Schneider technique became known as the "Arlberg technique", which is characterised by the stem christiania. The first Alpine combined ski race worldwide was the Kandahar race on the Arlberg pass in 1928. The Austrian Skiing Association (Österreichischer Skiverband, founded in 1905) and the winter sports clubs of the Naturfreunde Österreichs (founded at the same time) contributed innovative ideas in the field of skiing and organised ski courses and made skiing a popular sport in Austria. L. Gförer from Tyrol developed a skiing technique whereby the ski pole was used to change direction on steep slopes. In 1934, A. Seelos, who is considered the inventor of modern skiing technique, introduced the parallel turn whereby the upper part of the body rotated. Soon afterwards S. Kruckenhauser introduced a special leg technique (popularly called "Wedeln"). In the 1970s the "jet swing", an extreme turning technique, became extremely popular worldwide and the "Austrian leg technique" (österreichische Beinspieltechnik), developed by the Austrian skiing teacher, F. Hoppichler also gained worldwide popularity. Som recent changes in skiing technique (carving, snowboard etc.) have also been influenced by developments in the skiing industry. Austria continues to be world leader in skiing as a competitive sport, while the winter sports regions in the Austrian Alps provide excellent conditions for both recreational and competitive skiing.
Literature: H. Polednik, Weltwunder Skisport, 1969.
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