It’s our turn to keep Stein Eriksen’s legacy alive
December 29, 2015
Watching Stein Eriksen carve his way down the mountain was like watching a feather float in the breeze. And he showed the same effortless grace traveling the world as Park City’s ambassador to the ski industry. Eriksen died Monday at the age of 88, at home on the mountain whose destiny he shaped.
Park City’s international cachet among the venerable ski areas in Europe gained immeasurably thanks to Eriksen’s involvement, growing from a scrappy ski town in the West to a regular stop on the World Cup circuit.
Eriksen can also be credited with helping to elevate the entire concept of a destination ski resort – from a rugged outdoor camp to an elegant on mountain experience. Deer Valley’s reputation as a premier destination resort is, in part, a manifestation of Eriksen’s vision.
Eriksen was also known as a pioneer in the nascent sport of freestyle skiing, which earned an international spotlight at Deer Valley during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He was among the biggest cheerleaders as the contenders flew to heights never previously imagined.
But beyond the medals, luxury hotels and even his knighthood by the King of Norway, Eriksen never lost his passion for the sport of skiing, and never seemed to tire of sharing it with the public. This week, in the wake of his passing, stories of his gestures toward up-and-coming racers and everyday guests have abounded.
This is one of our favorites. In the late 1970s, when Deer Valley was just a blueprint, Eriksen was busy hosting private ski tours of the resort-to-be. One day, a group of telemark trespassers inadvertently skied up on a Realtors picnic on a prospective development site in Silver Lake. Eriksen bounded toward them and they prepared themselves for a tongue lashing. Instead the famously coifed Alpine champion extended a handshake and effusive compliments on their Nordic form.
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Park City owes a huge debt of gratitude to Stein Eriksen and his family for their vision and their commitment to the community. And we can think of no better tribute than to extend that generosity to a new generation of skiers. The family has suggested that, in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Stein Eriksen Youth Sports Alliance Opportunity Endowment by visiting ysaparkcity.org.