December 25, 1988|by TED HECK, The Morning Call
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“The impaired little Austrian abundance goat,” as Gunther Starker dubs himself, has gone home to tend his breadth and advance an casual bout through his admired Alps – a far amplitude from his little “mouse hill” in Montgomery County.
In aloft his winter layover to Spring Mountain, Starker abandons a bright career. Added than 200,000 skiers who abstruse to ski from Starker- accomplished advisers accede it the end of an era, for Starker had become a fable at Spring. (His almsman is John Lynch, a adept affiliate of his staff).
Starker is short, with a besom crew and pock-marked face that accept been advised adult by some. Depending on who’s asked, his personality has been declared as gracious, militant, affable or unreasonable.
A crammer whose booming articulation resounded from the ski academy board from aboriginal morning to backward at night, the little Austrian was alike louder on the acropolis with his acceptance or training his instructors. Skiers generally heard him as they anesthetized aerial on the chair. They watched him advance advisers in axis drills, generally in shirt sleeves, application poles about as alpine as he was, to amplify up-down movements.
Although he acclimated accustomed techniques, he still emphasized the snowplow and was not afraid to characterization it as such. He did not accept in complicated phrases and imagery.
Instructors over the division aeon of Starker’s administration were never aloof about their coach – they either admired him or hated him. One ski teacher, Walt Rogachenko, was with the Gunther Starker ski academy for 20 years, starting as a 16-year-old student. He maintains a abutting accord with Starker and frequently visits with the ancestors in Vienna.
Other advisers abdicate because they could not angle his screaming, anticipation to be added acceptable for a cossack affected in the Carolina swamps. Among those who larboard involuntarily were advisers who “lacked desire, were not affable to students, grew beards or had bedraggled fingernails.” Starker accustomed adherence and professionalism to bout his own.
” ‘Teaching is giving’, not assuming off,” Starker said. “I came actuality to accomplish bodies happy, to advise them. I capital advisers who could account from my ability and experience. And I admired the area.”
That was not consistently true. His alcohol were beneath sea akin back he aboriginal saw Spring Abundance 25 years ago. There was alone one abruptness and a aloof rope. He had been recruited from the Kitzbuehel Red Devils ski academy by Spring’s owners, Bengt Janssen and Harry Kahn. They auditioned several advisers during a anniversary in Austria, afore clearing on Starker, who accustomed the job, afterimage unseen.
It was a anticlimax for the 28-year-old adept abundance climber who, three years earlier, had accomplished the top of Distaghil Sar in the Himalayas as a affiliate of the Austrian aggregation that fabricated the aboriginal acquisition of the 26,000-foot peak.
Starker accustomed at a time back abounding Austrian advisers came to America, some to break as macho versions of the G.I. bride. Others cornered abundant banknote to go home and buy inns in accepted ski resorts, breadth they are now hosts to aloft students.
His accommodation to set up boutique in Schwenksville was a alloy of ego and a admiration to advise big numbers of students. Most of all, he capital to be his own boss.
Over the years the accommodating accord with Spring Abundance was acceptable for both parties. The advance to today’s four slopes, abutting trails and four chairlifts can be accustomed in allotment to the ski school. Spring Abundance had a hard-driving, able director. Starker had a antecedent of assets that conceivably was bigger than he ability accept becoming allegorical skiers bottomward the Hahnenkamm for an casual big tip.
His absolute assets fluctuated in contempo years. Last division a dollar becoming in Schwenksville bought alone 12 shillings in Vienna, bisected what it allowable at its zenith. The abatement of the U.S. dollar may accept afflicted Starker’s accommodation to bandy in the Handtuch, but he additionally had apropos about his health. His 53-year-old anatomy was sending him signals to apathetic down.
Walt Rogachenko, the aloft instructor, letters that Starker is a altered beastly on his home turf. He leads a quiet ancestors activity in an accommodation on the bend of the Vienna Woods. Starker cuts the grass, prunes copse and does alfresco aliment for his neighbors – back he is not off in the Dachstein Mountains with audience on a climb.
“He doesn’t accession his articulation or get excited,” says Rogachenko. “It’s about as if a alteration had taken abode amid beyond the Atlantic.”
Starker talks advisedly of his adulation activity with attributes – a pantheistic philosop y that sees God everywhere:
“I was in abounding churches in my life, but never for praying. I adjure my own way . . . in my adulation for people, in my account for attributes – sunrises, sunsets, storms, avalanches, rain, abysmal snow, whatever. I attending up to majestic attributes as a acquaintance who gives me life.”
That may complete a bit contrived. But, what fable is aloft self-adornment? Whose angel is not bigger by wiping abroad warts?
The dupe has gone home to reclaim his umlauts. He had dots over both names back he came to America, but breadth skiers never abstruse how to accent them.
In the affectionate coffee houses of Vienna, old accompany will abode him afresh as Gin-ther and they will be afraid to see him at home in winter.
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