The beginning ...
The origins of the Kitzbühel Ski School
Two names are invariably associated with skiing lessons in Kitzbühel after WWI: Hellensteiner and Monitzer. Way back in 1925, they first considered uniting Monitzer's traditional ski school and Hellensteiner's modern one and form a single ski school in Kitzbühel.
This idea was propagated by Ernst Reisch in particular. In 1926/27 a solution was found, and a uniform ski school lead by Sepp Hellensteiner was formed and given the name "Kitzbühel Ski School". When Baron Carl von Mengshengen was entrusted with the management of the ski school in 1939 this was another milestone in the rise of the Kitzbühel Ski School.
After Baron Carl von Menshengen had taken over the management and organization of the ski school, he used his various connections in England and the great number of members of the Kitzbühel Sports Club in favour of the ski school and succeeded in doubling the number of students and consequently the income during the very first year.
In the meantime, Kitzbühel had developed into a renowned winter sports resort and had become increasingly popular with guests from Great Britain. A visit from the Prince of Wales in 1935 marked the highlight of this development.
After the end of WWII, Sepp Sailer, Rudi and Toni Sailer's uncle and Olympic Ski-Jumping Champion, became the new head of the ski school. Sepp Sailer had been a ski instructor at the ski school since 1927, and he pursued this profession for 55 years. In 1945, he was the first and only licensee to take over the Kitzbühel Ski School, which he united with the "Association for Kitzbühel Ski Instructors and Mountain Guides" founded by Karl Koller after 5 years in 1950.
A private limited company was an entirely new form of enterprise for a ski school. However, it soon proved to be an economically favourable idea which was adopted by many other ski schools.
The History of the Red Devils
In winter 1949/50, Karl Koller took over the management of the ski school from Sepp Sailer.
Koller came up with the idea to closely cooperate with the famous artist Alfons Walde. Among other things, Walde designed free advertising material, posters and the well-known picture depicting the "Red Devils" for the ski school. This is how the Red Devils came into being, and Karl Koller suggested changing the ski instructors' outfit. Initially, they only traded their regular headgear for a pointed red cap, but Karl Koller didn't give in until each ski instructor wore a red pullover as well. This was something truly spectacular because the colour red was completely unusual for uniforms.
The Red Devils of Kitzbühel were born and soon acquired international fame. Together with Sepp Möllinger a song about the Red Devils of Kitz was composed as well which is still popular today. Jan Boon, the famous camera man, even did a film about the ski school.
The ski instructors weren't called Red Devils only because of their uniform red pullovers but also because they were "devilishly good skiers". In addition, they had a reputation for being the life and soul of sports events, parties and excursions.
In 1953, almost 25,000 students attended the Kitzbühel Ski School which boasted a total of 85 ski instructors.
In 1969, the name of the ski school was changed to "Kitzbühel Ski School, Ltd" and this hasn't changed till today. After 25 years of heading the Kitzbühel Ski School, Karl Koller left the Red Devils.
Toni Hofer became director in 1975, followed by Rudi Sailer in 1985, who soon handed over responsibility for kids-ski instruction to his brother, known in these parts as "Golden Toni". "Sailer & Sailer" attained a remarkable feat in the winter of 1986/87: together with their 300 ski instructors, they taught a record 100,000 ski students.
After a reform of the laws governing Austria's ski schools, the ski-school monopoly was no more. So, in 1989 Ernst Hinterseer Jr., together with Peter Ressmann, established a second ski school in the area, known as the "Total Hinterseer" ski school.
Others, including the Hahnenkamm ski school, directed by Hely Egger,
the Kitzbüheler Horn ski school, run by Sebastian Zwicknagl - incidentally, both hail from the ranks of the "Red Devils" were to follow.
In spite of the difficult circumstances and the immense competitive pressure from the many ski schools, the Kitzbühel Ski School managed to maintain its devilishly good reputation, continuing to thrive as the area's biggest ski school.
About 4 years ago, people began playing with the idea of once again having all the local ski schools join forces. After extensive negotiations, the fusion finally came about in the summer of 2005.
Under the leadership of ski-school director and general manager, Rudi Sailer, the "Skischule Kitzbühel Rote Teufe" (Kitzbühel Red Devils Ski School) proudly approaches the 2005/06 winter season as one of Austria's biggest ski schools, boasting an impressive 250 ski instructors.
At the beginning of 2010, after alteration of the tyrolean ski school law, Skischule Kitzbühel Rote Teufel was runned as sole proprietorship by Rudi Sailer, till he retired at the end of winter season 2010/2011 after 26 years.
In summer 2011 Erst Hinterseer jun. acquired the Skischule Kitzbühel Rote Teufel and has founded a new company named "Skischule Kitzbühel Rote Teufel - Ernst Hinterseer KG". Beginning with the winter season 2011 /2012 Ernst Hinterseer jun. starts off with a new motivated team.