Erich Windisch, Vail

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jumper, Instructor and Artist

Erich Windisch, 89, a longtime Vail, Colorado, ski instructor and artist, died in Vail on February 14, 2007.

Windisch started skiing in his native Germany at the age of 3. For five years, he was a member of the German National Team in jumping and nordic combined, winning nine divisional and national championships. In 1949, he was instrumental in the evolution of ski jumping, changing the forward arm movement to an aerodynamic position with arms alongside the body (he had to do so because of a dislocated shoulder, which forced him to jump with his hands at his sides). The technique is still in use today.

In 1957, he moved to Colorado and became co-director of the Willy Schaeffler Ski School at Arapahoe Basin, where he met Pete Seibert (who later convinced him to move to Vail). A ski teacher for more than 50 years—39 of them at Vail—in 1994 he was named Ski Instructor of the Year by Colorado Ski Country USA and inducted into the Colorado Ski Museum Hall of Fame. He was also an accomplished artist (his paintings sold internationally) and a key figure in the Professional Ski Instructors of America, where he served as a member of the PSIA Demonstration Team, and the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association, where he served on the examining board for 20 years and as certification vice president. He raced in Alpine Masters competition for many years, winning nine national championship titles.

Said Vail CEO Bill Jensen: “Erich was part of the fabric of Vail and forever will remain a Vail legend.” —Combined sources        

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