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Utah ski legend Stein Eriksen dies at 88 in Park City

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2016 04:11 pm

( Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Stein Eriksen next to his statue at the base of Deer Valley in 2002. Eriksen died Sunday at 88.

Utah ski legend Stein Eriksen died Sunday at his home in Park City, surrounded by his family, Deer Valley Resort said in a statement. Eriksen was 88.

Known for decades for his impeccable style and panache on skis, Eriksen, competing for Norway, won the gold medal in giant slalom and the silver in slalom at the 1952 Winter Olympics in his hometown of Oslo. After winning three gold medals at the World Championships in Sweden in 1954, he immigrated to the United States, working in Colorado, Vermont, California and Michigan before helping to develop Park City Mountain Resort.



He then became director of skiing at Deer Valley, where he served in the role for more than 35 years. A five-star lodge at the resort is named in his honor.

"People kind of step aside when they see him coming. They don't do that with other people," longtime friend Jim Gaddis said in 2009, himself as a national champion racer for the University of Utah. "They'll say, 'There goes Stein.' People want to watch him. It's just amazing."

Considered a founder of modern skiing, Eriksen developed a forward somersault that is credited as the forerunner of the inverted aerials performed by freestyle skiers today, the resort said.

"Stein was an icon before he got here, so it raised perceptions of Park City by leaps and bounds," said Clark Parkinson, who was an instructor at Park City when Eriksen arrived. "He's done so much for Utah skiing I don't think you can put a value on it," Parkinson observed in 2009.

Eriksen said he was grateful for the continuing attention. "To be an Olympic and world champion has been a trademark for me," he said in 2009. "But the appreciation that the American people have for champions has enhanced that value in a way that made it possible for me to enjoy life without too much effort."

At 80, Eriksen was seriously injured in a 2007 collision with a young skier at the resort. But after rehabilitation, he was back skiing. In 2013, Eriksen was hospitalized for more than a week with what the resort described as "neurological symptoms."

Last month, Eriksen was honored at the World Ski Awards, singled out for his outstanding contributions to ski tourism.

The individual honor accompanied a second consecutive designation of Stein Eriksen Lodge as the "World's Best Ski Hotel" and a third straight selection of Deer Valley Resort as the "Best Ski Resort in the United States."

"The winners serve to define the standards of the ski industry," said World Ski Awards Managing Director Sion Rapson, "inspiring others to raise the guest experience and stimulate new demand."

Eriksen's "celebrity charisma created a special ambiance whether within the Lodge, our restaurant or out on the mountain, that was warm and inviting," said Dennis Suskind, president of Stein Eriksen Lodge, in the resort's statement. "He was a real friend and will be missed."

"Stein has been an integral part of the Deer Valley family since the resort's inception and his presence on the mountain will be profoundly missed," said Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley president and general manager. "His influence in the ski industry and at this resort was infinite and his legacy will always be a fundamental aspect of Deer Valley."

Eriksen is survived by his wife of 35 years, Francoise, son Bjorn, three daughters, Julianna, Ava and Anja and five grandchildren, the resort said in its statement. He was preceded in death by son Stein Jr.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Stein Eriksen Youth Sports Opportunity Endowment. A private memorial will be held for family, followed by a later celebration of Eriksen's life. Details of that event have not yet been released.

 

 

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