In Memoriam: Doug Pfeiffer

The International Skiing History Association is reporting that “J. Douglas Pfeiffer, influential magazine editor and ski instructor, died in hospice in Manhattan on July 23, after a long illness. He was 96 years old.”

Doug, who was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1987, was one of the seven co-founders of PSIA. He – along with Curt Chase, Max Dercum, Jimmy Johnston, Bill Lash, Don Rhinehart, and Paul Valar – voted to create the Professional Ski Instructors of America on a warm day in May 1961 at Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.

Doug Pfeiffer, A founder of PSIA, poses in a old black and white photo.

In the book American Snow: The Snowsports Instruction Revolution, Doug said the creation of PSIA coincided perfectly with a surge in outdoor recreation, specifically in the high country. “There was a whole cultural fascination with and love of the mountains,” he said. “People were excited by the outdoor life, healthy exercise, good friends, and good times. They had left the big cities behind because they couldn’t stand them, and the mountains were opening up a new world of possibilities.

According to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame website: After serving on PSIA’s Board of Directors as treasurer for four years, Doug served for 13 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.

In addition to his appearances in the annual films of 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.

The Hall of Fame profile also mentions that in addition to his editorial endeavors, Doug appeared as a featured personality in major U.S. cities at annual fall ski shows and – “through open-end interview recordings distributed to almost 500 radio stations – was heard by millions of potential skiers. Between 1965 and 1975, he was ‘The Voice of Skiing.’”

Doug Pfeiffer jumps while skiing in vintage ski clothing at ski hill.

Around that time, according to the Hall, he began popularizing what’s now known as freestyle skiing, creating enormous interest on TV and in the ski press. “It excited thousands of young athletes to take up skiing and gave ski equipment and clothing manufacturers a much-needed creative and commercial boost.”

In a Facebook post, legendary freestyle skier and fellow inductee of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Wayne Wong wrote, “Dear Friends and our Worldwide Freestyle Skiing Family: With a heavy heart and deep sorrow, I’m 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.”

Read more about Doug Pfeiffer’s many contributions to the sport of skiing.

International Skiing History Association

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame