At 99 years, Klaus Obermeyer still a big part of the ski industry
What does your 99-year-old future self look like? If it’s anything like ski industry icon Klaus Obermeyer, you will still be working, exercising and laughing.
Obermeyer mans the front of the large booth that bears his his namesake just like he has for the past several decades (he has not missed a ski industry trade show since 1960). He is somewhat of a pop star, taking selfies, shaking hands, kissing babies, and laughing a lot. His spirit is contagious and the ski world is lucky to have an innovator like him and the world in general is lucky to have such an inspiration.
An aeronautical engineer by education, Klaus came to the U.S. when he was 27 years old. He hitchhiked to Sun Valley where he met ski filmmaker, Warren Miller before settling into Aspen where he became a ski instructor.
“In order to guarantee you’d have clients the next day, you’d have to keep them happy and warm today,” recalls Obermeyer, who actually fashioned a parka out of a down comforter his mother gave him when she heard he was moving to “North” America. “My mother thought, ‘it must be cold in North America’ with the emphasis on the word north,” Obermeyer said.
His engineering background allowed him to work with companies that had never made certain items before. Many people think that Obermeyer only manufactured ski clothing, but his innovations go beyond that. He was instrumental in developing high alpine sunscreen, two pronged ski brakes, zip turtlenecks, nylon wind-shirts, mirrored sunglasses and lighter-weight ski poles.
Speaking with Obermeyer today, this trailblazer is still thinking of the future and what’s best for the sport. In next year’s line expect to find forward-thinking styles and a few throwback looks. When you have over 70 years of catalogues to pull from, some classic styles resurface but with modern fabrics and signature technologies such as HydroBlock lamination, Control Zone Ventilation, Elastane 4-Way Stretch and body-mapped insulation.
In addition to being forward-thinking with technology at Obermeyer Sport, he also believes in having a win-win philosophy in business. Obermeyer strives to create an ideal situation for dealers, customers, employees and factories.
This year Klaus Obermeyer was honored at a luncheon at the Snow Show for the impact he has had on the industry with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Obermeyer was presented an ornate, oversized cowbell to which he responded, “I guess now I’ll have to get a cow.”
With a chuckle and a yodel, we ended the interview. Klaus’s time is in demand, so I needed to let him go and meet up with others eager to spend some time with this nonagenarian who still has such an optimistic outlook on life.