The upcoming Hannes Schneider Meister Cup Race at Cranmore Mountain Resort will honor veterans and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division a full 70 years after the division spent their second winter training in mountain and winter warfare at their Camp Hale, Colorado base. The event is a benefit alpine race for the New England Ski Museum, and will be held on March 8, 2014 at the North Conway, New Hampshire resort.
The race includes a special race category for military skiers, and ski teams from the active duty 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York and the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont are expected to attend. Veterans of the original 10th also will be on hand, though in recent years most of the World War II troopers have set aside their skis and come for the camaraderie and ancillary pageantry. In recent years, teams comprised of descendants of veterans of the 10th Mountain Division have been prominent in the Hannes Schneider Race.
The winter of 1944 at Camp Hale began with a lack of snow cover that hampered training plans for the division then designated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine), but bitter winter cold and snow made the end of the winter almost unendurable for the troops who were then on field exercises for weeks at a time. The infamous D-Series maneuvers–the term was abbreviated from Divisional Maneuver Training–were held from March 24th until May 6, and they made an indelible impression on most of the soldiers.
Colonel Albert H. Jackman, one of the earliest officers to join the mountain troops, described D-Series in a postwar article: “Cold, snow, refractory mules, sleepless nights, 14,000 foot peaks, and hazing from the “brass” combined to produce a situation that batteries of German 88’s and later actions could not make men forget. “It’s not as bad as the D-Series,” they later cried, and believed it.”
A small group of elite mountain troopers perhaps emerged with more pleasant memories of that Colorado winter in February 1944 when the 10th Reconnaissance unit made a four-day midwinter expedition from Leadville to Aspen, crossing the continental divide on skis. John Jay, later known as a ski filmmaker, was the unit’s commander and accompanied the group on the Aspen trek. Paul Petzoldt, mountaineer and founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School, and Fred Beckey, a climber said to have more first ascents to his credit than any other American, were among the notable troopers on the journey.
In the postwar years, veterans of the 10th Mountain Division could be found in most American ski resorts. Some of the best-known resorts like Aspen and Vail were founded by 10th troopers, and hundreds more veterans found careers in areas across the country. Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, site of the Hannes Schneider Race, was operated for decades by Herbert Schneider of the 10th, and a dozen or more mountain troopers were associated with the resort before or after the war.
Sponsors of the 18th Annual Hannes Schneider Meister Cup Race are Cranmore Mountain Resort, the Gibson-Woodbury Foundation, Newcastle Brown Ale, the Schneider Family, Eastern Slope Inn, the Connie Davis Watson Foundation, Eastern Mountain Sports, Magic 104 FM, 93.5 WMWV, Valley Originals, WPKQ 103.7, the Conway Daily Sun, Outside Television and Hill’s RV. For more information on the event call New England Ski Museum at 800-639-4181 or visit www.newenglandskimuseum.org.