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Willy Schaeffler

Inducted 1973


Willy Schaeffler is a man of many experiences and adventures, a man who settles for nothing short of championship perfection. Schaeffler is the internationally famous figure of skiing that migrated to America from his native Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, after terrifying and torturous escapades in World War II.

The son of a prominent political leader, Schaeffler was a four-way junior Austrian champion as a teenager. He applied for a U.S. visa and was promptly drafted, court-martialed for a letter of protest and placed in a penal work battalion. Later, he went into another work battalion, suffered battle wounds, and was captured by the Russians. The victim of extreme torture, he eventually escaped, became an anti-German agent and worked with the American and French ski troops. After the war ended, Schaeffler received his visa and came to the United States.

This courageous Bavarian took over the University of Denver ski program in 1948 and immediately molded a collection of Pioneer skiers into the toughest and winningest teams in the history of intercollegiate skiing. In his sixteen years of coaching at DU, his teams won twelve championships and were runners-up in two other years.

Schaeffler also gained prominence as a tough competitor in skiing and later as an international leader in the booming sport.

When the 1960 Olympic games in Squaw Valley, California, were on the verge of collapse, Schaeffler stepped in and salvaged the competition. He resolved ugly political differences, bureaucratic problems and faulty planning with tireless work and a firm belief in the worthiness of the program. He was then director of all skiing for the games.

Of high reputation as a consultant, developer, administrator and coach, Schaeffler introduced the American technique in ski instruction and was instrumental in organizing the Professional Ski Instructors Association. He also launched the highly successful Rocky Mountain News Ski School.

In 1970, Schaeffler was named head coach of the U.S. National Ski Team and became responsible for the entire alpine ski program of the nation. Schaeffler is also known as a master of waxing skis to coincide with weather and snow conditions.

He is a versatile author, commentator, architect of ski areas, and coordinator and liaison for IBM for Olympic and world ski championships and director of ski movies.

For his many contributions to the sport of skiing, Schaeffler was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1973.

Willy Schaeffler

Willy Schaeffler is a man of many experiences and adventures, a man who settles for nothing short of championship perfection.