Founder of modern skiing, legendary skier Stein Eriksen dies at 88 in Park City

Founder of modern skiing, legendary skier Stein Eriksen dies at 88 in Park City. (Photo Courtesy: Deer Valley Resort)

(KUTV) Stein Eriksen, the man known as the founder of modern skiing and a legendary alpine skier, died at the age of 88 at his home in Park City on Sunday.

Eriksen passed away peacefully and was surrounded by his family, according to a news release on Deer Valley Ski Resort's blog.

Not only did Eriksen make an impact on the ski industry locally, he also became the first alpine skier to win triple gold at a world championship and was an Olympic Gold Medalist. His involvement in the ski industry spanned nearly 60 years.

Mitt Romney shared a statement on Monday honoring the late Eriksen.

After his career of skiing Eriksen, also known as the "Father of Freestyle Skiing" continued to make the skiing lifestyle a part of his lifetime pursuit. The internationally-renowned luxury hotel, Stein Eriksen Lodge located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort, is named after him. He served as the Deer Valley Resort's Director of Skiing for more than 35 years.

Commenting on Eriksen's legacy, Dennis Suskind, President of Stein Eriksen Lodge, noted, "Stein Eriksen was the vision behind the development of the Lodge that carries his name. His celebrity charisma created a special ambiance whether within the Lodge, our restaurant or out on the mountain, that was warm and inviting. He was a real friend and will be missed."

Eriksen, born December 11, 1927, originally gained his fame through competition at the 1952 Oslo Olympic Winter Games, where he took the gold and silver medals in the giant slalom and slalom events, respectively. Two years later he went on to win three gold medals at the World Championships in Åre, Sweden in 1954, making him the first alpine skier to win the world championship 'triple gold.' Shortly thereafter, Eriksen's inimitable style and captivating personality garnered him the attention of the news media and friendship of the Hollywood elite. His status was enhanced by his spectacular forward somersault, an aerial maneuver credited as the forerunner of the inverted aerials performed by freestyle skiers today.

A native of Norway, Eriksen lived in the United States for the last six decades. Prior to joining Deer Valley Resort, he was involved in the development of the then Park City Ski Area, now Park City Mountain. Before Park City, Stein spent four years as director of skiing and ski school director at Snowmass, Colorado, and four years as ski school director at Sugarbush, Vermont. He also served as ski school director and owned his own sport shop in Aspen, Colorado. From 1956 to 1958, he was ski school director for Heavenly Valley, California, having previously served in the same position at Boyne Mountain, Michigan from 1954 to 1956.

Eriksen is survived by his wife of 35 years, Francoise, son Bjorn, three daughters, Julianna, Ava and Anja and five grandchildren. 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. Stein was frequently seen by thousands of skiers as someone who was approachable and taught the sport with kindness to others. He was known for always being happy to stop and visit and take a photo with a student or fan.

A private memorial will be held for family followed by a celebration of Stein's life, details of which will be forthcoming.

Some took to social media to remember Stein Eriksen and the impact he left in their life.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off