Deer Valley, and Stein Eriksen, ready for opening day
Stein Eriksen has an easy answer when asked about his favorite ski run at Deer Valley Resort.
It is Bald Mountain’s Stein’s Way. It starts as an advanced intermediate run, turns into an expert one for a bit and then ends as an intermediate run at the bottom of the Sultan Express lift.
The run is named in honor of Eriksen, who remains the best-known figure at Deer Valley as he approaches his 85th birthday on Dec. 11.
Eriksen is one of the skiing legends around Park City, and one of the city’s earliest, even though he never competed for the United States. He won the gold medal in the giant slalom in the 1952 Winter Olympics, held in his native country of Norway. He followed his Olympic victory with three gold medals — slalom, giant slalom and combined — in the World Ski Championships in Sweden two years later.
He recalls signing a one-page contract after his racing days with Edgar Stern, the owner of what was then known as the Park City Ski Area. Eriksen had already made several stops teaching skiing at other American resorts. Eriksen followed him when Stern later opened Deer Valley Resort as a ski mountain that would provide top-shelf service to the skiers.
Eriksen has been associated with Deer Valley Resort since its opening day in 1981. He is the director of skiing and is often spotted on the slopes guiding other skiers across the mountains. He is also the namesake of the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley.
"We are the best and will always remain the best," Eriksen said about Deer Valley Resort on Monday, as the resort prepared to open for the 2012-2013 ski season on Saturday.
Deer Valley will start the season on Saturday with as many as 10 lifts operating and probably more than 12 runs open.
The annual Celebrity SkiFest is scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. The resort Jan. 30-Feb. 2 is slated to host a freestyle skiing World Cup, continuing to build on its legacy from the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The resort was ranked second in this year’s Ski Magazine list of the best resorts in North America, breaking a five-year streak as No. 1. Eriksen noted Deer Valley’s attentive service, something that has won the resort some of its greatest accolades.
Eriksen expects to ski this weekend and said he will probably log 40 or so days on the slopes during the season. He talks of skiing being a sport enjoyed with friends and family. He sees his role at Deer Valley being to instill the love of skiing in people.
"If they are not enthused enough, I will inspire them to get even more enthused," Eriksen said.
And Eriksen sightings are not limited to Stein’s Way. Other favorite runs of his are Perseverance and Keno.
More information about Deer Valley’s opening is available on the resort’s website, http://www.deervalley.com .
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