Norwegian ski champ & American ski legend left his mark.
The passing of Stein Eriksen, 1952 Olympic champion and 1954 three-time world champion from Norway, will be mourned by the entire skiing community. He was part of the growth of skiing in the U.S. in the go-go ’60s. He was ski school director or director of skiing at Boyne Mountain, Sugarbush, Aspen Highlands, Heavenly Valley, Snowmass, Park City and perhaps others I can’t recall.
In 1981, he joined Deer Valley, a new resort on the outskirts of Park City, Utah. No one will ever know what part his association with the resort played in its success, but it must have been considerable because the two were made for each other. The resort’s namesake Stein Eriksen Lodge is perpetually ranked as one of America’s top hotels for its location, elegance, service and cuisine. Stein remained as classy as the hotel named to honor him. He never wore a hat (and perhaps never a helmet either), and images of his full head of blond hair, Scandinavian sweaters and gracefully angulated, feet-together ski style epitomized his “Nordic god” image. He remained an elegant, gracious and classy icon of the sport.
In 2007, a day after celebrating his 80th birthday, he was injured in a collision with a 9-year-old resort visitor who reportedly “popped out of the trees” into Eriksen’s path. After surgeries related to that incident, he grew gaunt, and I frankly don’t know whether he continued to ski. Sadly, in 2013, he was hospitalized with some neurological issues. Even more sadly, Eriksen died on December 27 at the age of 88. He is survived by his wife Françoise and children Julianna, Ava, Anja, and Bjørn. Stein, Jr. predeceased his famous father. RIP.