Art Furrer

In 1959, a young man by the name of Art Furrer decided to leave his mountain village in German-speaking Canton (state) of Valais above the upper Rhone Valley, and seek his fortune in the United States.

As a ski instructor in New England, Art attracted attention for his unorthodox ski technique and acrobatic tricks. Ski acrobatics became known as “hot dogging”, and Art Furrer is recognized as its “father”.

After making his fortune as an acrobatic exhibition skier in the US, Art Furrer returned to Valais and the village of Riederalp above the town of Brig, in the shadow of Europe’s longest glacier, the Aletsch. He had big ideas for developing tourism there, and built several modern hotels, which were highly successful, and were key to putting the village on the map as a favorite tourist destination. But Art’s innovative ideas, which departed from local tradition, often met with skepticism, and even resistance.

Now in his 80’s, Art Furrer is no longer in the hotel business, but is still regarded as one of Switzerland’s best-known tourism pioneers and sportsmen.

Art Furrer is a classic story of the self-made man, with a Swiss-American twist.