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Ski Archives highlights Park City legends

Adia Waldburger

Some of Park City’s own were among the former ski competitors honored last week at the University of Utah Marriott Library Ski Archives Ski Affair. According to Ski Affair chair and Parkite Barbara Amidon, the fundraising annual event is held to honor past Utah ski competitors and to raise money to benefit the maintenance of the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library’s Ski Archives, which collects, preserves and makes available to researchers thousands of ski related photos, hundreds of scrapbooks, special collections, documents, files and films including the records of the Organizing Committee of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The Park City inductees included Karen Korfanta, Alan Engen, Jim Gaddis and Dick Mitchell. In a statement supplied by Amidon, the Ski Archives honors those in the competitive world of ski racing in the Intermountain area, and this year, specifically focused on those who competed during the 1950’s and 1960s. The criteria was restricted to those skiers who were living, residents of the Intermountain area (or were at the time of their competitive accomplishments), were members of Olympic or International Ski Federation (FIS) teams, achieved collegiate All-American status or were top finishers in major international races, and had not been honored previously as a competitor in the last five years.

According to biographies supplied by the Amidon, each honoree was at the forefront of skiing in Utah, the nation and the world and left a permanent mark on the ski community.

Karen Korfanta A native of Pinedale, Wyo., Karen was the Intermountain Division slalom champion in 1961 and 1962; downhill champion in 1962 and 1964 and giant slalom champion in 1963, the same year she won the slalom in the U.S. Junior National Championships and was named the division’s Junior Girl Racer of the Year. She won the senior title the following year. She represented the University of Utah at the World University Games in Sestriere, Italy, placing 6th in the DH and 8th in GS. She placed 3rd in DH in the Canadian Nationals in 1966, the same year she won the GS at the Far West Kandahar. She placed 2nd in the Special Slalom at the World University Games in Finland in 1970. She was a member of the U.S. National Alpine Team in 1967-70, selected to the U.S. Olympic Team in 1968 and was a member of the U.S. FIS university teams in 1966 and 1970. She served as U.S. Ski Team Coordinator from1971-73; was race department manager at Park City Mountain Resort and chair for the America’s Opening Alpine World Cup from 1986 until 2003. She served on the jury for the Alpine Women’s Events for the World Championships in St. Anton in 2000 and from 1998-2002 she was the Park City Mountain Resort’s Sports Manager for the snowboard and giant slalom venues during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Korfanta continues to serve as PCMR’s race manager.

"When you look at those who have been honored before I’m proud to be part of that group," Korfanta said. "There are some really great athletes who have been honored. It’s my favorite event, so it’s nice to be honored."

Alan Engen, son of legendary ski pioneer Alf Engen, made his own mark on ski history in the Intermountain west. Alan started skiing at the young age of 2 and started competing at 9. He was very successful as a junior racer in the Intermountain capturing membership on the Junior National team from 1953 through 1958. He was the champion of both alpine events but jumping as well. He attended the University of Utah and was a member of the ski team. He was co-captain from 1959-1962 and was named to the NCAA All American team in 1960. Also in 1960 he took second place in the U.S. National Alpine Downhill, Slalom and Giant Slalom Combined. From 1964-66 he was a member of the U.S. Ski Team for the Counseil Internationale du Sports Militaire World ski championships and FIS competition in Europe. He continued his ski racing in the Master Series. Alan has been listed as a Utah Ski Legend in 1989. In 1991 he was named to the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. Alan’s accomplishments aren’t only on the ski hill. He has produced two videos on his father; Alf Ski Meister of the 20th Century and Alf Engen An American Legend. He has also written "For the Love of Skiing of which he received the Ullr award from the International Ski History Association and "First Tracks, A Century of Skiing in Utah with Dr. Gregory Thompson. His most notable accomplishment is the building of the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center/Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City Utah. Alan has been the Director of the Alta Ski School from 1992-98 and most currently the Director of Skiing at Alta. He is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation, Chair and president of the Alta Historical Society, torchbearer prior to the 1996 Olympic Summer Games and 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He is a charter member of the U of U J Willard Marriott Library’s Ski Archives Advisory Board. "I’m very humbled to be considered with this group of great athletes and personalities," Engen said.

With the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the completion of his books, Engen has been at the forefront of preserving Utah’s ski history. Thus, the Ski Archives honor seems to be a fitting award for Engen. "We work hard," Engen said. "The folks that have an active role as part of the Ski Archives play an important role with Alf Engen Ski Museum."

Jim Gaddis The Salt Lake City native was named Intermountain Ski Racer of the Year in 1957, 1958, 1962 and 1963 and was the Intermountain Division’s slalom, downhill and giant slalom champion in 1957, 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1963. In 1959, 1960 and 1962 he was captain of the University of Utah Ski Team. In 1960 and 1962 he was named to the NCAA All-American Ski Team and won the NCAA Alpine Combined title. In 1962, he also won the NCAA slalom, the U.S. Giant Slalom Championships and the Snow Cup, repeating as Snow Cup winner in 1963 and 1964. He founded one of Utah’s first racing programs for the development of junior racers in 1964, which evolved into the Gaddis Training Organization (GTO), which later became the Park City Racing Team. He coached the Intermountain Division Junior National Ski Team from 1970 to 1976. Jim has been inducted into the University of Utah Crimson Club Sports Hall of Fame (1989), the Utah Sports Hall of Fame (1989) and most recently the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. Jim has volunteered his time and talents to numerous ski-related organizations including chairing the U.S. Ski Team Ski Ball, the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation, the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Ski Archives, the National Abilities Center, and the Alpine Site Selection Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the Youth Winter Sports Alliance. "It’s always nice to receive honors for something you do in your past," Gaddis said. "I was one of the founding members [of the Ski Archives], but I had nothing to do with the selection," he added laughing.

Dick Mitchell The Ogden native learned to ski at age 11 by watching others. He started skiing at Snow Basin, when there was still a rope tow. After a stint at Weber State College, he became a member of the University of Utah ski team finishing second in the NCAA Slalom Championships as well as in the Eccles Cup in 1952. In 1953, as captain of the U. ski team, he won the NCAA Downhill Championship and place third in the slalom. As a pilot for the U.S. Air Force, he competed for the USAF European Ski Team with athletes from the United Kingdom, Germany and the NATO Allied Air Forces. He skied for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina, d’Ampezzo, Italy. In 1955 Dick placed 32nd in the Hahnenkamm Downhill in Kitzbuhel, Austria, and he placed 43rd the following year in the Lauberhorn Downhill in Wengen, Switzerland. He piloted F105s during the Vietnam War, logging 100 combat missions over Vietnam and 49 over Laos. He and his fighter plane were shot down twice.

"It means a lot. After a long, long time, someone is recognizing us old guys," Mitchell said.

Mitchell also reflected on the significance of being recognized with the people who were on the competition circuit when he was.

"We’ve been a family," Mitchell said.

Mitchell says that in his time in Park City, he watched the city come of age and move into the booming status it is at now.

"I’ve had a great life," Mitchell said. "I loved Park City."


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