Sport Obermeyer, founded in 1947, is going strong with its namesake still setting the course. Klaus Obermeyer is a legend. Aspen claims him proudly. We want to be like him. Someone once told me they had collided with him skiing and were thrown like they had hit a great sequoia. He is a force. He has a strength of spirit and purpose that inspires. A daily regimen of swimming (I have witnessed him patiently and calmly backstroking through the Aspen Meadows pool and am amazed he can take the time to share a smile and a life lesson as he strokes and floats along), Aikido, to which he was introduced by another Aspen legend Tom Crum (founder with John Denver of the Windstar foundation), and time on the slopes round out the physical activities that match his tenacious and life-embracing worldview. He gravitates towards the sports and philosophies of weightlessness. When I asked him for his "in the moment feelings," Klaus said, “By the time you do the article, I will have changed my mind!" He truly lives in the moment. His employees are his family. When they get the job, they tend to stay. His events conference coordinator, a modern day Moneypenny, Michele Byrne, had this to say of her longtime boss and friend - “I have worked alongside Klaus since 1986, and his positive outlook on life, his determination, his wonderful spirit keep me laughing and smiling every day.”
Klaus envelops and enjoys to the fullest the people and places of his life. He regales the views of nature witnessed from all angles his regular physical and mental activities provide as well as the views one gets on life and its varying perspectives coming with 99 years of looking. He once told me he had learned enough lessons the hard way (including knowing how to stretch war rations) and was enjoying seeking answers sans struggle. Here are some of those pearls of life wisdom he drops as he swims, skis, leads and lives.
It’s a recipe for a life we can all follow:
[Ingredients- family, friends, business, physical activities, innovation and a win-win attitude
Cooking Time - decades
Difficulty- He makes it look easy (some yodeling and stretching required)]
“I think we (receive) by nature a gift by having a body. If we don't use it, it goes to hell, so it's really important to keep using it.”
2. "You don't want to eat more than you burn off. If you eat more than you burn off you have to carry around all kinds of stuff unnecessarily.”
3. "Everybody has that opportunity(for positive thinking). It's our choice of perception. How do we perceive the world around us? We can perceive it negatively and go to hell or we can perceive it positively and make it work well and go to heaven, you know, play with the angels.”
4. “First of all and foremost, we should be thankful for our planet. We have a very, very special planet, with all that life that over billions of years has developed. It's amazing. It's just absolutely fantastic in plants and animals. We need to lead our lives as much as possible to disturb that very little. Keep the air clean."
5. “Whatever it takes to get a win-win, that's the kind of thing to do.”
6. “Every attack that comes at you can be seen as an opportunity,” he says. “You can make it work in your favor.”
7. “Always innovate, always improve...if you aren’t, you are cheating your customers.”
8. “Any day you don’t ski is a day you don’t get back.”
In answer to the query of what he would be if not the founder of Obermeyer, he enthusiastically replies, "I would have remained a ski instructor!" With that love of skiing and the mountains in mind, here are some of his gifts to our beloved ski industry:
•the modern day puffy parka (his mother sent him from Germany to the states in one fashioned from a down comforter (“I Looked like the Michelin Man but I was warm!).
•mirrored sunglasses (made of vaporized metal to block UV rays) •dual-layer ski boots (boots with a soft liner inside a plastic shell) •high-altitude sunscreen •the nylon windshirt •double-lens goggles (to prevent lenses from fogging) •the first waterproof and breathable fabrics •the modern-day ski brake
Klaus has stretched his body, found his mental quiet and stayed flexible through not just his skeleton and mind but the changing times of the ski industry and the changing planet which he so clearly loves. It’s a love affair really. Keeping knees bent to absorb the changing terrain and a heart open to the infinite possibilities. “I yodel when there aren’t words to describe the beauty around me.” Yodel on, Klaus, and the world yodels with you.
On his playlist:
"I'd rather be thinking than listening to whatever music is out there."