Willy Schaeffler - Sport Builder / Athlete - 1978

Willy Schaeffler was born in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria on December 13, 1915. He was a competitive skier by the age of 8. In 1932, at age 17, he was the winner of Bavarian Alpine Championships. Willy was named to the 1936 German Olympic Team but broke both legs and was unable to compete. When war broke out in Germany, Willy formed an Austrian resistance group, which sabotaged the Nazis in the Austrian Alps.   Following WWII, Willy’s ski career took a different turn. He trained American Army Forces in Europe, in the technique of skiing. One of his most notable students was George Patton.   Willy came to Colorado in 1946 and began clearing trails and setting up ski school at Arapahoe Basin. It was here that Willy introduced the technique called “short-swing.” Willy directed the Arapahoe Basin ski school for two years.   In 1948, Willy became coach for the University of Denver Ski Team. He won 13 of 18 National Championships (NCAA). He coached 100 wins out of 123 ski meets. His squads finished in the top three in 122 out of 123 times. Thirty-three of his racers were named to the NCAA All-American teams. He had 15 named to the Olympic Ski Teams and FIS championships.   Willy became the Director of Ski Events at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, California. From 1970 to 1973, he was the Director of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team. In 1972, he served as head coach for the US Olympic Ski Team in Sapporo Japan where his racers won gold and bronze.   Willy developed special intensive training program for his skiers, planned and proposed a Sports Medicine Program and a traveling medical team for the athletes, was one of the founders of Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), and served on many USSA committees. In 1968, Willy received USSA’s highest award for outstanding service to the sport of skiing – The Julius Blegen Award. In 1969, he received the USSA Rocky Mountain Division’s highest award, the Halstead Trophy for outstanding service. In 1972, Willy was inducted into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1974, was inducted into U.S. Ski Hall of Fame. In 1977, he assisted in the formation of the Special Olympics, Inc., along with the Kennedy family.  (Deceased)