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Photo: Bob Soden

It might seem strange that the founder of the U.S. ski instructors’ association, the editor of America’s biggest ski magazine, and a father of freestyle was actually a Canadian from Quebec’s Stoneham Mountain Resort—but it’s true. Doug Pfeiffer, a native of Quebec City who passed away recently at the age of 96, was founder of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), pioneer of the freestyle skiing movement, and, in its heyday, editor-in-chief of Skiing magazine.


Pfeiffer began skiing on the hilly terrain of his home town at age four. He was soon schussing the slopes of the Stoneham ski area north of the city, before his family relocated to Montreal. That move brought him closer to the Laurentians, of which he took full advantage, even playing hooky from Westmount High School to get more slope time.

By the age of 18 he was teaching skiing at Chalet Cochand, in Ste-Adele, North America’s oldest ski resort. A year later he moved north to teach skiing for Johnny Fripp at Mont Tremblant and Real Charette at Grey Rocks, earning his certification with the CSIA in 1947.


In 1950 Pfeiffer took a Greyhound bus to what is now known as Palisades Tahoe to teach skiing for Emile Allais, the 1937 FIS world champion. In the Laurentians he had taught the snowplow-to-stem Arlberg Technique of Hannes Schneider; in California he was introduced to the parallel-from-the-start French Technique of Allais. While there, he earned his certification for the Far West Ski Instructors Association (FWSIA), and went on to serve as its president for many years.

In 1953 Doug moved further south to Snow Summit, near Los Angeles, having accepted an offer to be the co-director of its ski school there; he would also serve as ski school director for Kratka Ridge and Moonridge, altogether remaining at Snow Summit for 10 years. He earned a BA in Vocational Education and taught public school in San Bernardino to supplement his income. Doug published Skiing with Pfeiffer in 1958, and in 1961, along with Bill Lash Paul Valar and others, founded the PSIA.

Skiing magazine offered Pfeiffer the position of national editor in 1963, which entailed a move to Denver, which he accepted, and also managed to fit in a stint as ski school director at nearby Loveland Ski Basin. Two years later, he moved to New York City to serve as Skiing’s editor-in-chief, a position he held for the next 13 years. For Skiing’s Ziff-Davis group, Doug would also supervise during this period Skiing Trade News, Skiing Area News and three other ski-related publications.

Together with Olympian Tom Corcoran, Doug inaugurated the first National Open Championships of Freestyle Skiing at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, in 1970. That same year, he published Skiing Simplified. In 1971 he authored Skiing…the Killy Way, and in 1980, Skiing Skills. In 1991, Doug became a founding member of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA), and served on its board of directors for the next 30 years.

Doug was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1987, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame & Museum in 2000, and the Laurentian Ski Hall of Fame in 2016.

Bob Soden
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