Willy Schaeffler – Vail critic turned supporter
Originally from Kaufbeuern, Germany, Schaeffler was skiing coach at the University of Denver from 1948 to 1970. His teams won 14 NCAA skiing championships. He also coached the 1966, 1968, and 1970 FIS teams, forerunner to the world championships.
In 1962, Sports Illustrated magazine featured Willy’s instructional ski articles with unique drawings. He was one of the most important ski authorities of his time.
After his comments in Sports Illustrated in the summer of 1962 that Vail would never make it as a world-class resort, he had a hard time living them down. The expert skiing that made Vail a world-class resort was developed later. Through the years, when Willy became more familiar with the mountain, he was an enthusiastic supporter.
His letter to the founding fathers some 20 years later demonstrates his sportsmanship:
Dec. 15, 1982
Vail’s Founding Fathers
Vail Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 7
Vail, CO 81658
Congratulations, and a tip of my ski hat to the founding fathers of Vail on this 20th anniversary celebration.
Your achievement has taught me – too late – the difference between dreamers and doers!
How many times in the 1950s I drove by the site of Vail, dreaming how it might some day be a great place for a ski resort.
Then Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert and their partners, all dreamers, ja, but also doers, came along. And while I was dreaming – they built Vail!
Today Vail is in the first rank of world resorts. You can all be proud of what you have accomplished. Best wishes for the next 20 years, and ski heil!
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 133rd installment, an excerpt from chapter 15, “The Rich and the Famous.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.