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Willy Schaeffler

Hall of Fame Class of 1974

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Willy Schaeffler was a junior champion in his youth and later became a world leader in ski sport.

In 1915 Willy Schaeffler was born in Kaufbeuren, Germany (Bavarian Alps). As a youth he was an Austrian four-way junior champion.

When World War II began in Europe, Willy was unhappily conscripted into Hitler’s Army. This was after he had applied for a visa to leave Germany. He served in a penal battalion on the Russian Front where he was injured and tortured. Willy escaped from the Nazi Army and joined the German underground where he served until the end of the war in Europe.

After the war, Schaeffler became a ski instructor at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany where he coached the U.S. Army Team. Coming to the United States in 1948, Willy earned a BA degree from the University of Denver and became an assistant professor in physical education.

As ski coach at the University of Denver from 1948-1970, he led his team to fourteen National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in sixteen years from 1954 to 1969.

Willy was coach of the 1966, 1968 and 1970 F.I.S. teams. He served as the Director of Ski Events for the Winter Olympic Games in 1960 at Squaw Valley, California.

He also held many F.I.S. positions as a long standing member of the F.I.S. Course Approval Committee; the president of the 8th Interski (International Congress of Ski Instructors) Aspen, 1968; officiated as F.I.S. Technical Delegate at Olympics, World Championships and World Cup Events; was Team Leader of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Alpine Team at Sapporo, Japan; was U.S. Alpine program director 1971-1973 and a referee of Men’s Downhill, 1974 F.I.S. Championships, St. Moritz.

Willy was also one of the organizers of the Professional Ski Instructors Association. With Larry Jump, he helped build the Arapahoe Ski Basin and served as the ski school director.

Schaeffler served the United States Ski Association as a Technical Delegate to the F.I.S., was an Honorary Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the United States Ski Educational Foundation and a United States Ski Association Representative to the F.I.S. Committee for Alpine Courses.

For his devotion to the sport of skiing and his many years of active participation as a greatly respected ski official, Willy Schaeffler was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1974.

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