Hall of Fame Class of 1967
Toni Matt became a favorite ski student of Hannes Schneider and Toni followed him to the United States in 1938 to teach at Schneider’s school. He was an outstanding ski racer. His victory in the Inferno Race of 1939 is the stuff of skiing legend.
Born in St. Anton in Arlberg, Austria, Toni Matt eventually settled in Quaker Hill, Pawling, New York. There are valid reasons Matt was a favorite instructor of the late Hannes Schneider (Hall of Fame Honored member) and came to the United States in 1938, with the skimeister’s blessing, to join Benno Rybizka’s (also an Honored Member) Arlberg ski school in Jackson, New Hampshire. In 1939 Toni became National Downhill Champion followed in 1941 by winning the National Downhill and Combined Championships.
A highlight of Toni’s fourteen-year ski racing in the U.S. was his winning of the renowned Inferno New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington in 1939. He plunged down the awesome Tuckerman’s Ravine headwall without turning and reached speeds of 85 miles per hour. His winning time was 6:29.2, nearly a full minute ahead of second place finisher, the great Olympian, Dick Durrance.
Toni Matt served the United States in the 10th Mountain Infantry Division during World War II, entering the ski troops as an enlisted man and emerging a second lieutenant.
Following the war, Toni’s zeal for ski racing carried onto the slopes all over North America, including the captaincy of the United States Ski Team during the 1950 F.I.S. World Championships at Aspen, Colorado. In 1953 Toni entered the Harriman Cup Competition in Sun Valley in hopes of winding up his competitive career by winning the event for the third time and thus retaining the trophy. However, a broken leg took him out of the race and almost crippled him for life.
Then, from 1954 to 1956, Toni served as president of the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association.
Toni was as technically perfect a skier ever to set foot on a slope and Tuckerman Ravine will always be synonymous with his name. This one event, however, was merely one of a string of accomplishments in his career. For the Eastern Slope Ski Club of North Conway he was an outstanding competitor. For the National Ski Association he raced in world championship events and for the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association he served in an executive capacity. Truly, Toni Matt’s career is synonymous with all that the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame stands for.
Toni Matt was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967.
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