Friedl Pfiefer was introduced to Aspen, Colorado while training with the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale on the Continental Divide during World War II. When the war ended in 1945, the Austrian ski racer returned to Aspen. The place piqued his interest, something so many people can relate to, and he made his way back to town to operate the burgeoning ski school in Aspen. For the next few years, Pfiefer helped to develop Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk Mountain, he organized professional ski races modeled after the ski culture in his hometown of St. Anton am Arlberg, and he handpicked a few ski instructors to teach guests how to ski.
75 years ago, a young Klaus Obermeyer found his way to Aspen, Colorado. Friedl Pfiefer urged the young Bavarian ex pat to check out the growing town in the Rocky Mountains. Obermeyer joined Pfeifer’s six other ski instructors to create the ski school in Aspen.
“I thought a ski instructor was the next thing to God,” says Klaus. “We felt so fortunate to give the gift of skiing to people in Aspen in 1947."
That season on Ajax, Klaus watched firsthand as skiwear did not help his clients feel comfortable in the elements. Guests raced into the lodge to warm up rather than spinning another lap on the mountain because the woolen skiwear available in 1947 would get wet and cold.
Obermeyer and Pfiefer talked a lot about the subpar skiwear available at the time, and Pfiefer challenged the innate problem solver and engineer from Bavaria to “make skiing safer and more fun” for the ski school students.
Obermeyer got to work. Eventually, he stitched the first ski parka from a down comforter his mother had given him to keep his ski students warm on the mountain.
The commitment to innovation and design sparked out of necessity in 1947 lead to Klaus building Sport Obermeyer. Mirrored sunglasses, ski brakes, dual-construction ski boots, aluminum poles, turtlenecks, double lens ski goggles, and sunscreen for protection at high altitude are just a few of the innovative designs Klaus hatched over the years.
Klaus Obermeyer’s business was born from Friedl’s challenge to make skiing safer and more fun in 1947—75 years ago.