A Day in the Life of Klaus Obermeyer
A look into the 96-year-old’s active Aspen lifestyle
Photos courtesy of Sport Obermeyer
The alarm goes off around 7 am, and Sport Obermeyer creator Klaus Obermeyer heads from his south-of-town ranch retreat into the heart of Aspen, Colorado, for a hearty breakfast. After that, he swims no less than half a mile before hitting the gym for 30 minutes. Then it’s off to work for a few hours—but it isn’t too long until Klaus itches for the slopes.
Around noon he skis for two hours or so, because—and he can’t go too long without reminding you—he is deeply in love with the snow sport. “I ski almost every day of the season,” says the 96-year-old, “because the days you don’t ski you don’t get back! You may as well live them and experience them fully.”
German-born Klaus remembers the first time he encountered the concept of skiing: He was instantly hooked. While on a walk with his father, 3-year-old Klaus saw his neighbors climbing little hills and sliding down. “My dad had a hard time getting me away from that spot to wherever he needed to go,” he says.
From there, Klaus fashioned his own makeshift skis from the thin chestnut boards of orange crates that his father imported from Italy. He made do for a while until, one snowy Christmas, Santa brought him his first real Eriksen skis. “That was the absolute best Christmas of my life,” Klaus says, “because it gave me the basis of the most wonderful sport, which combines so much of the beauty of nature with speed and feelings of weightlessness—there’s nothing like it!”
Fast-forward to 1947, and while Klaus’s love for skiing quickly evolved into racing, he decided to head to America looking for employment as an aeronautical engineer. Upon arrival, however, aeronautics jobs were scarce. “So I called my friend Friedl Pfeiffer in Sun Valley, Idaho,” Klaus recalls. “I told him I needed to make some money and asked if I could teach skiing for him.”
Friedl Pfeiffer had already moved on from Idaho to Colorado to open the Aspen Ski School. It was there, as a ski instructor, that Klaus gained insights for Sport Obermeyer’s gear and apparel, and where he eventually started the business from the attic of his home. Sport Obermeyer went on to pioneer what today’s skiers would consider powder-day staples: the quilted down parka, mirrored ski sunglasses made from vaporized metal, the nylon wind shirt, high-altitude suntan lotion, and the dual-layer ski boot, just to name a few.
Klaus has stayed in Aspen ever since. “It’s a phenomenal town,” he says. “The climate lends itself very well to outdoor sports, in winter and summer. There is always something fabulous to do or experience.”
It’s no doubt that the 96-year-old owes his vitality to his active lifestyle, but it's impossible to ignore Klaus’s discipline for positivity in everyday life.
Added to his list of daily activities now is Aikido, a martial art where one learns to defend oneself while also protecting the attacker from injury. “It is a peaceful martial art and an interesting mix of technique and extension of energy,” says Klaus. He discovered the art 35 years ago from Tom Crum, a teacher in Aspen who studied Aikido in Japan.
“It’s very much like skiing,” Klaus says. “You apply the extension of energy in skiing, too. You love the mountain. You’re the center of your own universe. You’re given all these choices and opportunities—where to turn, how fast to go, how to enjoy it. You have a positive energy; you cannot fear or have negative energy.”
When asked to describe his favorite ski run, after a brief description of the beautiful runs at the Parsenn in Switzerland, Klaus just cannot choose. “It doesn’t matter which mountain it is or which run or what conditions there are. I do not discriminate between them. Some are longer; some are shorter… but they’re all fun! I just love skiing.”