Alf Engen Museum unveils new exhibits
Most people will never get to experience the thrill of ski jumping, especially not off the 120-meter hill at the Utah Olympic Park.
But, thanks to the Alf Engen Ski Museum, housed at the Utah Olympic Park, visitors can now experience ski jumping virtually. The Alf Engen Virtual Ski Jump was unveiled on Wednesday, along with two other new exhibits one honoring "Hometown Heroes" from the Sochi Winter Olympics and one chronicling ski fashion through the ages.
Alan Engen, who is not only the son of Alf and chairman of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation, but also a member of the National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and a former University of Utah Ski Team All-American, said the museum enjoys being able to bring new exhibits to the public.
"As I went around and I looked at all the museums around the country, the one thing I noticed is that there are a lot of permanent fixtures in there," he said. "I think that is really nice, it really is, but for people to come, they don’t want to see the same thing over and over and over again. They’ve got to have a reason to want to come back and see the museum."
Thus, he said during a speech at the unveiling on Wednesday, the museum decided to add some new exhibits.
"We wanted to make the museum dynamic, not static," he said.
Though he said in an interview with The Park Record that changing exhibits constantly isn’t financially viable, when there is enough money to bring in something new, he hopes to do so.
"We made a goal right at the front end that we were going to do something that we’d change as much as we can within the finances we have available," he said. "We’re going to look for ways to make it new and exciting so people will come back and say, ‘Well, what’s new this year?’"
After many local Olympic athletes, including Sage Kotsenburg (slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist), Joss Christensen (slopestyle skiing gold medalist), Ted Ligety (giant slalom gold medalist), Steven Holcomb (two-time bobsled bronze medalist) and Danelle and Rob Umstead (Paralympic super combined bronze medalists), had outstanding performances in Russia, Engen said the Hometown Heroes exhibit was a no-brainer.
The ski fashion exhibit was donated by Barbara Alley Simon and features ski fashion, accessories and other retro gear dating from 1968 to 1998.
But, understandably, the Alf Engen Virtual Ski Jump holds the most meaning to Alan Engen. Named for his father, who, in 1934, set a world record by jumping 296 feet at Ecker Hill, the exhibit allows visitors to stand on a moving platform that measures balance and foot angles as it projects a skier on-screen going through a ski jump. Engen said ski enthusiasts won’t find another exhibit like it.
"It’s unique," he said. "It’s probably one-of-a-kind in the world right now and to have it here is a very, very special opportunity for us."
And, he added, there’s no better place than Park City to host such an exhibit.
"Being up here in Park City, it’s really neat," he said. "You really have a historical basis for what we’re doing up here. It started at Ecker Hill, which is a stone’s throw from here. World records were set there. To tie that in now with the large 120-meter hill upon which this exhibit was based, you have history represented in this exhibit."
The Alf Engen Ski Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is free to the public.
For more information about the Alf Engen Ski Museum, visit http://www.engenmuseum.org .
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.