The annual Hannes Schneider Meister Cup, a celebration of New England skiing history, is coming up March 11-13 at Cranmore Mountain Resort.

The annual event benefits the New England Ski Museum and Cal Conniff Grant Program, both of which help preserve the history of skiing in the region.

The race is named after Hannes Schneider, a driving force in the development of skiing in America, who came to North Conway in 1939 as director of the Mt. Cranmore Ski School. Schneider fled Europe as Germany fell into the dark days of Nazi rule and the continent spiraled down into war.

The race takes off at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 12, but the festivities begin Friday and end Sunday.

Entry fees for a five-person team is $375, and for an individual racer is $75.

The entry fee covers an all-day lift ticket on Saturday, welcome reception Friday night, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, the race, an après ski party, and more.

Jeff Leich of the New England Ski Museum said, "The Hannes Schneider Meister Cup is unlike any ski race in history. It combines the best of skiing today with the warm nostalgia of yesterday. It honors the founding father of ski instruction, Austrian Hannes Schneider, who brought his world-renowned skills to North Conway and Mt. Cranmore in 1939. Schneider introduced skiing fun and excitement to millions around the globe.

"Hannes Schneider was a mountain soldier himself in World War I, so it is fitting that the Schneider Race pay tribute to America's mountain troops. Each year 10th Mountain Division veterans of World War II, and the Color Guard and soldiers of the active duty 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York take part in this memorable event," Leich said.

He said this year's Meister Cup Race will welcome several race teams from the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York, as well as dozens of veterans of the famed unit of mountain soldiers from the Second World War March 12.

"The beginnings of a capability for mountain and winter warfare in the U.S. Army date back to the winter of 1941, when the War Department authorized the activation of small military patrols that would operate on skis in five divisions scattered across the northern tier of the country. Prior to that time, the common assessment was that the Army was well-prepared to fight in Maine in the summer and Florida in the winter, but not the other way around. A concentrated effort by leaders of the National Ski Patrol and the American Alpine Club to convince the War Department to experiment with troops on skis led to the divisional patrols of 1941, and the next year to the activation of a full regiment, the 87th Mountain Infantry regiment," Leich said.

He said, "Your participation in this event helps fund the collection and conservation of our skiing heritage exhibited at the New England Ski Museum for the purpose of research, education, and entertainment. Located at the foot of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH, this important museum offers an archive of skiing history with colorful exhibits, an extensive library, and growing collections of ski-related artifacts."

More information: Meister Cup; Entry Form. Or call 800-639-4181.

Video from the 2010 Hannes Schneider Meister Cup