C FIS Ski Museum Damüls © Katrin Preuss / Vorarlberg Tourismus
01 Where the world’s first ski course for guests took place
In 1906, Viktor Sohm of Bregenz organised the world’s first ski lessons for guests in Zürs am Arlberg. In addition to locals, there was also a guest from St. Gallen (CH). At that time, skiing was a lot more difficult than it is today. For one thing, there were no ski lifts, and for another, skiing with long wooden skis was a real challenge. Today, Lech Zürs am Arlberg in the heart of Austria’s largest interconnected ski region is one of the world’s top ski resorts.
02 Where the first ski lift opened
The Bödele ski resort, located above Dornbirn and Schwarzenberg, is among the places in Vorarlberg where skiers started skiing early on. Here, in 1907, the first motor-driven “lift,” a toboggan that was pulled uphill, went into operation. The first surface lift, as we know it today, started operating in Zürs am Arlberg in 1937. In 1947, the first chairlift opened in Tschagguns in Montafon.
03 Where Pastor Müller glided through the snow in secret
In the 1890s, Pastor Johann Müller, who lived and worked in Warth, arranged for skis to be sent from Sweden so that he could get around better and faster in the Alpine terrain on the Hochtannberg and Arlberg. As the story goes, he initially practised at night so that he would not be laughed at. Today, the guided “Father Müller” ski tour from Warth to Lech Zürs am Arlberg commemorates this erstwhile ski pioneer.
04 Where cable car innovations are born
Cable cars, gondola lifts and chairlifts made by Doppelmayr are in use in skiing and hiking regions as well as cities in Austria and around the world. The company, which was founded in 1893 and specialised in toolmaking and repairs at the time, is based in Wolfurt in Vorarlberg. As the market leader in ropeway construction, Doppelmayr has also developed countless innovations. In addition to technical advancements, skiers particularly appreciate the heated chairlift seats.
05 Experience ski history up close and personal
What did skis, bindings, boots and poles look like in the past? How did ski equipment develop and who were the pioneers? Those interested will find answers and worthwhile memorabilia at small, sophisticated ski museums such as the FIS Ski Museum at the Pfarrhof Damüls parsonage, which is dedicated to the history of skiing and ski racing. Additionally, the ski museum at the Walserhaus in Kleinwalsertal houses a small collection. In Ski Arlberg, you can also meet ski pioneers as well as sports and movie stars from the Arlberg in the HALL of FAME right at Flexenbahn/Trittkopfbahn I mountain station.
06 Where skis take centre stage
There used to be a handful of companies in Vorarlberg that manufactured skis. One has stood the test of time: Kästle, founded by Anton Kästle, who presented the first ski made of ash wood, called the “Arlberg Ski”, in 1929. Years later, World Cup and Olympic champions would ski on Kästle skis, including Toni Sailer, Pirmin Zurbriggen and Anita Wachter. The Kästle Museum in Lech Zürs am Arlberg reveals more about Kästle’s company history. Since its founding in 1950, Head also has a company site in Vorarlberg.