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There's no such thing as a sacred ski (and snowboarding) mountain -- as far as we know -- but if there were, it would have to be the Arlberg. This is where alpine skiing began its conquest of the world. On the east side of the Arlberg, 114km (71 miles) west of Innsbruck, is what's known as the cradle of alpine skiing. Here the legends and stars known to all dedicated skiers were born: the Ski Club Arlberg, the early Kandahar races, and Hannes Schneider and his Arlberg method.

The Arlberg, with peaks that top the 2,745m (9,006-ft.) mark, lures skiers with its vast network of cableways, lifts, runs stretching for miles, a world-renowned ski school, and numerous sporting amenities. Runs begin at the intermediate level, reaching all the way to the nearly impossible.

The Arlberg is the loftiest mountain in the Lechtral range, and marks the boundary between the settlers of the Tyrolean country and the Vorarlbergers, who live in the extreme western province of Austria. One of the Arlberg's most celebrated peaks is the Valluga, at 2,812m (9,226 ft.).

In 1825, a road was opened, allowing traffic to travel to the Arlberg Pass. A 10km-long (6-mile) rail tunnel was opened in 1884, linking Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Finally, in 1978, a new road tunnel, Europe's third-longest, linked the two provinces. The toll for the Arlberg Strassen Tunnel is 9€ ($14) each way per car. If you're not driving, you'll find the area serviced by the well-known Arlberg Express rail link.

A modern resort has grown out of this old village on the Arlberg Pass, a place where ski history began. It also hosts some of the finest skiing in the Alps.

It was at St. Anton (1,289m/4,229 ft.) that Hannes Schneider developed modern skiing techniques and began teaching tourists how to ski in 1907. The Ski Club Arlberg was born here in 1901. In 1911, the first Arlberg-Kandahar Cup competition was held, with the best alpine skier winning a valuable trophy. Before his death in 1955, Schneider saw his ski school rated as the world's finest. Today, the ski school, still at St. Anton, is one of the world's largest and best, with about 300 instructors, most of whom speak English.

The little town is a compact resort village with a five-story limit on buildings. No cars are allowed in the business area, but sleds and skis are plentiful.