By NASTAR Staff
Stein Eriksen, the legendary alpine skier whose revolutionary technique and distinctive style made him a founder of modern skiing, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 at his home in Park City, Utah surrounded by family. He was 88 years old.
As one of the most recognized names in the ski world, Stein Eriksen has been synonymous with skiing style and elegance for more than 60 years. The first alpine skier to win triple gold at a world championship, an Olympic Gold Medalist and ambassador and father of freestyle skiing, Stein Eriksen parlayed all that he knew and loved about the sport into an incredible career that spanned almost six decades and changed the face of alpine skiing worldwide.
The patriarch of elegant skiing, Eriksen successfully turned his passion for skiing into a lifetime career. His desire to develop an internationally renowned luxury hotel, which now bears his name, is located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort, where he served as Director of Skiing for more than 35 years.
“Stein has been an integral part of the Deer Valley family since the resort’s inception and his presence on the mountain will be profoundly missed,” said Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley president and general manager. “His influence in the ski industry and at this resort was infinite and his legacy will always be a fundamental aspect of Deer Valley. He was a true inspiration and we are honored to have had him as a part of the Deer Valley family.”
Commenting on Eriksen’s legacy, Dennis Suskind, President of Stein Eriksen Lodge, noted: “Stein Eriksen was the vision behind the development of the Lodge that carries his name. His celebrity charisma created a special ambiance whether within the Lodge, our restaurant or out on the mountain, that was warm and inviting. He was a real friend and will be missed.”
Born Dec. 11, 1927, Eriksen originally gained fame through competition at the 1952 Oslo Olympic Winter Games, where he took the gold and silver medals in the giant slalom and slalom events, respectively. Two years later he went on to win three gold medals at the World Championships in Åre, Sweden in 1954, making him the first alpine skier to win the world championship “triple gold.” Shortly thereafter, Eriksen’s inimitable style and captivating personality garnered him the attention of the news media and friendship of the Hollywood elite. His status was enhanced by his spectacular forward somersault, an aerial maneuver credited as the forerunner of the inverted aerials performed by freestyle skiers today.
A native of Norway, Eriksen lived in the U.S. for the last six decades. Before joining Deer Valley Resort, he was involved in the development of the then Park City Ski Area, now Park City Mountain. Before Park City, Stein spent four years as director of skiing and ski school director at Snowmass, Colorado, and four years as ski school director at Sugarbush, Vt. He also served as ski school director and owned his own sport shop in Aspen, Colo. From 1956 to 1958, he was the ski school director for Heavenly Valley, California, having previously served in the same position at Boyne Mountain, Michigan from 1954 to 1956.
Among his numerous awards and honors, Eriksen was awarded the Knight First Class honor in 1997 by His Majesty the King of Norway as a reward for outstanding service in the interest of Norway, indicating his dedication to his home country. His contribution to the world of sports and his commitment to the people of his homeland also earned him the Royal Order of Merit.
In recognition of his pioneering spirit and contribution to the early development of the ski industry, Stein received the Pioneer Award from the Intermountain Ski Areas Association (ISAA) in 1998. Eriksen served as an Olympic Ambassador at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, during which some events took place at his home mountain of Deer Valley Resort and coincided with the 50th anniversary of his Olympic medals.
Eriksen was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Hall of Fame in 2013. In April 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Utah Sports Commission. Eriksen was also awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Ski Tourism by World Ski Awards in 2015.
Stein was frequently sought out by the thousands of skiers to which he taught the sport and was always happy to stop for a visit and a photo. He took great pride and joy in his past students and guests and making them feel special. In addition to his numerous accomplishments and awards, Stein will be remembered for his charisma, kindness and approachable nature.
Eriksen is survived by his wife of 35 years, Francoise, son Bjorn, three daughters, Julianna, Ava and Anja and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by son Stein Jr.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Stein Eriksen Youth Sports Opportunity Endowment. A private memorial will be held for family followed by a celebration of Stein’s life, details of which will be forthcoming.
— Release and photo courtesy of Deer Valley Resort