Hall of Fame welcomes six
At 83 years old, Cal McPhie has lived through much of Utah’s skiing history, from the emergence of the state as a world-renown destination to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
But McPhie envisioned ski resorts becoming more than just slopes and lifts. He wanted his to offer lots of off-hill activities, perhaps ice skating, tubing and tobogganing, a way, he says, to draw families, schoolchildren and church groups.
McPhie, who launched the Gorgoza resort just east of Parley’s Summit in 1968 and operated it until 1972, on Thursday night joined five other pioneers as the 2006 class of the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame at the Utah Olympic Park.
McPhie remains proud of his role in Gorgoza, which failed to stay in business for long but was a precursor to what has become a trend of bigger mountain resorts offering more off-the-slopes activities as a means to attract customers.
"I made the attempt. I tried it. I’m not unhappy. My theory was right, still can be right," he said in an interview on Thursday, after his induction. "If I won the lottery, I’d do it all over again."
Before starting Gorgoza, McPhie ran Little Mountain, a forgotten ski resort in Emigration Canyon. After Little Mountain, McPhie said, he wanted to open a resort with wider appeal, resulting in the Gorgoza model.
He said he needed $70,000 to secure the 146-plus acres of Gorgoza and his brother found an investor from California to put up the money.
"I couldn’t borrow any money from any banks because they didn’t think there was a future," McPhie, who lives in Salt Lake City, said.
But once the investors arrived, McPhie’s team built Gorgoza in a year. It featured a skating rink that relied on cold weather, not refrigeration equipment, to freeze, a three-shoot toboggan run, two chairlifts and one T-bar lift. It was not meant to compete with the likes of Alta and Brighton, he said, and it catered to families.
The resort, he said, was named after a Spanish duke who helped finance the railroad through the area.
"It was just for a day of or evening of fun for companies, for families," he said, remembering that prices were less than those charged at the ski resorts at the time.
Eventually, the investors wanted out and sold Gorgoza. Park City Mountain Resort years later purchased the property and, in a bow to McPhie’s idea, built tubing runs and a mini-snowmobile course. McPhie went into the construction sector with a business that repaired huge cranes.
"It’s a recognition of my peers for our efforts but it is also a lot of people who helped us along the way," he said.
Others inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday, with biographical information culled from the Hall of Fame, are:
( H Devereaux "Dev" Jennings, a Winter Olympian from 1948 and a collegiate skiing champion.
( Marvin "Marv" Melville, an Olympian and a ski coach for the University of Utah and the Olympic team.
( Richard "Dick" Movitz, an Olympic skier who also won college and national championships.
( Jack Reddish, who was on the Olympic ski team twice and won national championships.
( Marthinius "Mark" Strand, who in 1915 started the region’s first ski club and promoted ski-jumping events at Ecker Hill, a now-abandoned ski-jumping site in the Snyderville Basin, in the 1920s and 1930s.
The hall of fame since 2002, when the first class was named, has inducted 29 people, including famous skiers like Stein Eriksen and the Engen brothers and pioneers like Edgar Stern, best known for founding Deer Valley Resort.
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As Deer Valley starts talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a large development proposal at Snow Park, called Snow Park Village, the resort has identified the possibility a gondola as a traffic-fighting measure.