Born in Saas-Almagell in the canton of Valais, Zurbriggen made his World Cup debut in January 1981, a month before his 18th birthday. With his victory in the downhill at Kitzbühel in January 1985 at age 21, he became the first to win World Cup races in all five disciplines. (The fifth discipline, Super G, was added in December 1982.)(Marc Girardelli, the second to enter this exclusive circle, won his first downhill race four years later at the same place).
Zurbriggen retired from international competition after having won the 1990 World Cup overall title – his fourth, which was then the most overall titles won by a single racer, reached only once before by Gustav Thöni in 1975. Again it was Marc Girardelli who followed him in 1991 with a fourth overall title, and Girardelli added another in 1993 to become the only male racer with five overall titles in World Cup history.
Zurbriggen grew up in the remote village of Saas-Almagell, near Saas-Fee. With a total of 40 World Cup victories over nine years and five gold medals, he belongs to the "All-Time Greats" of alpine skiing, ranking fifth in all time wins and having 169 Top Ten finishes.
Zurbriggen left the World Cup tour as a hero to start a family; he was married the previous summer (30 June 1989) to Monika Julen, with whom he has five children. He is the older brother of Heidi Zurbriggen, a winner of three World Cup downhill races, and a distant cousin of Silvan Zurbriggen.
Zurbriggen now runs the "Wellness Hotel Pirmin Zurbriggen" with his parents in Saas-Almagell and another, "Apparthotel Zurbriggen," in Zermatt. In addition, after his World Cup career had ended he partnered with Authier Ski company on a line of signature skis.