A Scottish snowsports pioneer who was one of the last legends of Cairngorm skiing has died.
Hans Kuwall, the founder and director of the Carrbridge Ski School, died on Christmas Day at the age of 88 at his home in the hamlet.
At 12 p.m. yesterday, his funeral ceremony was held at Carrbridge Parish Church.
Mr Kuwall was characterized as “probably the most important” of the Austrian “migrant teachers” who came to Britain to develop the sport and establish globally recognized ski technique standards.
He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Hillend Ski Centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which helped to popularize skiing in Scotland.
Mr. Kuwall was also a prominent coach on the British ski racing circuit for many years, guiding the Bell brothers, Olympic and FIS World Cup GB downhillers Martin and Graham, to success.
Hans worked for Karl for a season before marrying Barbara, a Straun housekeeper, and opening a second ski school at the Carrbridge hotel. Karl Fuchs was not impressed and referred to Hans as “the rat” for many years.
He was also a founding father and long-time director of training for BASI (the British Association of Snowsport Instructors) with membership number 13.
Hans Family Reaction To His Death:
His wife Barbara said: “We had a long life together – we were married for 64 years and he was very proud of that.”
“Everyone recognized him wherever he went,” his son Tony added. He had a lot of respect.”
“At first, Hans was not permitted to compete in Scotland because he was considered a professional,” Mrs Kuwall continued.
“However, because so many of the instructors wanted to race, the regulations were altered, and he won the Scottish ski championship in 1967.”
In 1956, the pair met at the Struan House Hotel in Carrbridge, which is considered as Scotland’s first ski hotel, after arriving in the hamlet on the same day.
They married in November 1957 at St George’s Church in Huyton, Liverpool, Mrs Kuwall’s hometown at the time.
Mr Kuwall had been persuaded to teach in Scotland by his Austrian hometown buddy, fellow Scottish ski great Karl Fuchs.
They were both from Bruck a der Mur in the Steiermark area and were members of the same ski club as children.
“Hans started with Karl and stayed for two years, and then Alistair Macintyre at the Carrbridge Hotel asked him if he would start a ski school there,” Mrs Kuwall explained.
“We were probably there for two years before buying our house in 1960 and opening our own ski school, bringing teachers over from Austria.”
The Carrbridge Artists Studio used to be the ski school base, which is now the Carrbridge Artists Studio.
Peter, born in 1962, and Tony, born three years later, where the couple’s only children.
Mr Kuwall’s professional life was also shaped by the year 1962, as it was the year he met Boyd Anderson at the London Ski Show.
“Boyd and my father felt they could bring an alpine slope to the Edinburgh region, similar to the one they saw at the exhibition, and provide local schools a terrific opportunity to learn to ski,” Tony explained.
“Skiing didn’t really exist in Britain, save for a few individuals who would come up here and walk to bits of snow.” At the time, even Europe lacked a significant number of ski resorts.”
Who Was Hans Kuwall, His Life & Career:
Hillend, currently known as the Midlothian Snowsports Centre, was built and developed by a businessman and a skier.
Mr Kuwall was to work at the Carrbridge Ski School for 29 years, including leading ski training programs, while Mrs Kuwall and seasonal ski managers administered the school.
During its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, the ski school employed 30 full-time teachers and another 20 part-timers, with over 500 skiers taking lessons on a daily basis during the February half-term.
“The school was popular virtually from the beginning,” Mrs Kuwall stated. Back then, all the ski schools were getting numbers like that.”
This was before the advent of low-cost flights to European ski resorts and warmer winters.
“We weren’t shut due to the wind at the time; it was because skiers couldn’t get up the road,” Tony recounted. Snow drifts the size of double-decker buses were present.”
Mr Kuwall left Hillend in the early 1990s and returned to operate Carrbridge Ski School.
When the funicular was built-in 2001, however, the resort began and prioritized its own operation for ski training, causing neighbouring ski schools to close.
He then briefly ran Cairngorm Mountain’s Ski School before retiring.
Mr Kuwall was also one of the British delegates on the world ski body the International Ski Instructors Association for many years – the equivalent of FIFA for football.
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