Doug Pfeiffer the Founding Father of Freestyle Dies

Freestyle legend, Wayne Wong, wrote a beautiful tribute to an incredible visionary, leader, publisher and supporter of freestyle skiing. Doug Pfeiffer was all of that and more, here is Wayne’s tribute;

“Dear Friends and our Worldwide Freestyle Skiing Family, It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow and saddened to inform everyone that Doug Pfeiffer passed away this morning. Sunday, July 23.

It is important for all of you to know that Doug was truly the “FOUNDING FATHER” of Freestyle Skiing.

In early 1970 , Doug had a conversation with Olympian and Waterville Valley Ski Area Founder, Tom Corcoran. He and Doug were discussing who were really the hottest skiers on the mountain. Tom’s opinion, being an Alpine ski racer said it was the ski racer. Doug, a founder of PSIA, and Editor In Chief of Skiing Magazine begged to differ and said what about the mogul, aerial, and trick skiers?

Tom and Waterville Valley agreed to host the first ever International Championships of Exhibition Skiing on a steep and challenging run called True Grit in early March 1971.
It was Doug’s vision to introduce a new form of skiing that could involve spectators and the skiing public.

Doug and Skiing Magazine secured Chevrolet as the title sponsor and gave away a Chevrolet Corvette as the grand prize. Skiing magazine put out an all-out challenge ad, and invited several international professional skiers to participate in this inaugural event.

Triple Gold Medalist, Olympic Champion, JEAN CLAUDE KILLY, was invited to be the head judge. Swiss Skiing Champion and Hart Ski demo team member ROGER STAUB was also asked to be a judge.

The event was a huge success and Vail, offered to host a second event immediately afterwards at the end of March 1971.

This was the the turning point and the birth of Freestyle Skiing Worldwide, as we know it.

So for many of us who were there, and pioneers of the sport, we owe our gratitude and thanks to Doug and Tom. For without them and their vision, Freestyle Skiing and the spin off snow sports movements, may not exist.

DOUG, my friend, mentor, and inspiration….Thank you for the life you have given to me and the rest of the Worldwide Freestyle Family and Community…. I SHALL MISS YOU DEEPLY”

On the slopes, Doug Pfeiffer gained acclaim as an innovative ski teacher who knew how to provide his students with fun – and plenty of it – an attribute which subsequently was to bear fruit with his championing of a whole, new, creative sporting outlet for the youth of America, or as he put it, “an indigenous American folk art and body language.”

Shortly after World War II, Doug left his native Laurentian Mountains (Gray Rocks Inn, Mount Tremblant) where he had established a fine record as a Registered (Certified) member of the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance. Intent on becoming “the world’s best ski teacher,” he went to California’s Squaw Valley to teach and study with the creator of the French parallel method, Emile Allais. There, he earned his American certification from the Far West Instructors Association; again as highest scorer for the year and in subsequent years headed the organization as its president.

Doug served as ski school director at Kratka Ridge, Moonridge and Snow Summit, all in California and at Loveland Basin in Colorado. His summers were spent in college studying psychology and methods of teaching toward acquiring a BA in Vocational Education and a California public school teacher’s credential. To support his ski teaching goal, he taught fifth and sixth grades for several years.

Perhaps capping his career as a ski teacher was his five-year involvement with Bill Lash, Willy Schaeffler, Paul Valar and others in founding the Professional Ski Instructors of America in 1961 and then serving on its board of directors as treasurer for the next four years. He is still an active certified ski instructor, working on yet another two or three ski books.

Doug published his first book, Skiing…with Pfeiffer in 1958. Though humorous, it presented some new, serious concepts about ski techniques that helped lay the groundwork for the understanding of ski teachers.

Doug served for thirteen years as editor-in-chief of the following Ziff-Davis magazines: Skiing, Skiing Trade News, Skiing Area News, Skiing International Yearbook and Skiing Trade Show Daily. He wrote hundreds of articles for these publications, many considered controversial but which proved prophetic and changed the sport for the better. Sun Valley’s Bill Janss called him “skiing’s angry young man who wants change now.” His primary focus was on “how to ski better and have some fun.”

In addition to his appearances in the annual films of the popular ski movie makers, Doug did more than a hundred “how to ski for fun” spots on local TV. He was a sought-after speaker on the regional civic-service-club luncheon circuit, always extolling the joyous personal values of becoming and being a skier, promoting skisport.

When Doug joined Skiing, he moved from the San Bernardino Mountains to Denver (Loveland Ski Basin) and then to New York City. In addition to his editorial endeavors, he continued his “evangelizing” for skisport, appearing as a featured personality in major USA cities at the annual fall ski shows developed by Harry Leonard. Through “open-end interview” recordings distributed to almost 500 radio stations, he was heard by millions of potential skiers. Between 1965 and 1975, he was “The Voice of Skiing.”

By 1972 such was his presence, he was chosen as commentator for the nationally televised “Killy Challenge” as well as co-hosting with Suzy Chafee a TV series called “The World of Skiing.” Further, he served as “colorman” on the original “Battle of the Sexes” CBS-TV shows.

Around that time, he began development of a program concept (known today as freestyle skiing) which in less than three years radicalized many aspects of ski sport. It created enormous interest on TV and in the ski press. It excited thousands of young athletes to take up skiing and gave the ski equipment and clothing manufacturers a much needed, creative and commercial boost.

Doug Pfeiffer was elected to the Canadian and US Ski Hall of Fame’s.

RIP Doug, thank you for your contributions to our lives!