Dr. Hans Kraus (deceased)
Year Inducted: 1974
Born: 1905 Trieste, ITA
Died: March 6, 1996 New York City, NY
Physiatrist, Dr. Hans Kraus was a leader from the 1940's through the 1980's in promoting the benefits of exercise for therapeutic rehabilitation and orthopedic recovery. He was a recognized proponent of physical fitness in the United States long before it was popularly recognized as beneficial.
Growing up in Austria he immigrated to the United States in 1938. In 1946 he set up a multi-disciplinary back clinic at Columbia University treating patients with exercise. One of his first skiing patients, recommended by Hannes Schneider, was J. Negeley Cook whose prompt recovery from injury at Kraus' hands, when standard practice required lengthy immobilization, brought fellow skiers in droves to Kraus' doors. Eventually his patient list read like a Who's Who in skiing and society. He treated President John Kennedy for his chronic back problems.
In 1944 Kraus joined the National Ski Patrol and served as medical advisor to the Belleayre Ski Patrol for 25 years.. He was also national medical advisor to the NSP's Eastern Division. Outstanding American skiers, Buddy Werner, Billy Kidd along with Tony Sailer and Lowell Thomas credited him with getting them back on to the slopes through his program and knowledge skills.
As a professor at Columbia University he devised with Dr. Sonja Weber measurments to assess strength and flexibility. His tests shocked the nation with its statistics on the low fitness levels of American children.. The Kraus-Weber tests became the standard for fitness testing for many years. A concerned President Eisenhower was moved to found the President's Council on Youth Fitness and appointed Kraus to serve on it. Kraus continued this service during the Kennedy administration.
A true sportsman, Kraus enjoyed mountain climbing and was an enthusiastic skier. He reached a broad audience on the benefits of fitness for accident prevention and rehabilitation by publishing widely and extensively in academic journals and newspapers. Among his publications was The Complete Skiers Guide in 1940 and the landmark, Backache, Stress and Tension, (1965) which sold over a million copies.
(The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame wishes to acknowledge Dr. Gretchen Besser for her assistance with this biography.)