Fresh powder from the night before graced the slopes and the sun shone for a beautiful bluebird day at Deer Valley Resort. A large but intimate crowd gathered après-ski on the snow outside the Troll Hallen Lounge at the elegant Stein Eriksen Lodge on December 11, 2016. We were there to celebrate the glories of the ski day and a skiing legend: Stein Eriksen. Stein was the handsome and charismatic, Norwegian gold-medal Olympian and World Champion who served as Director of Skiing at Deer Valley Resort for 35 years until his death a year ago at age 88.
Because December 11 was his birthday, the state of Utah declared it “Stein Eriksen Day” in 2001 to honor Stein’s legacy of being an ambassador for the sport of skiing worldwide. With Stein’s recent passing and his many fans missing him and wanting to commemorate his accomplishments, his legacy and just the great, kind man that he was, Park City Municipal, Deer Valley Resort and Stein Eriksen Lodge created the first annual Stein Eriksen Day Celebration.
Skiers and friends dressed in Stein-inspired Norwegian attire (like vintage handmade knit sweaters and richly embroidered skirts and vests) gathered on the lodge decks. Complimentary hot chocolate and Stein’s favorite Marzipan cake were passed around. Under snow-covered trees near the three deer statues and Olympic torch outside the lodge, Stein’s family and local officials dedicated a plaque memorializing Stein’s great contributions to Park City at large and to the sport of skiing. Deer Valley Resort President and General Manager Bob Wheaton said that Stein’s athletic accomplishments were second to none, but that his warmth, ethics and humbleness were what truly made him a star. Stein Eriksen Lodge CEO Russ Olsen talked about how Stein chatted up guests every day in the lodge dining room, and that they have a responsibility to carry on his legacy. Deer Valley Resort Owner Lessing Stern, who had known Stein since he was a boy, said Stein was “a gentleman’s gentleman.” Park City Mayor Jack Thomas declared Stein the pied piper of skiing and we were happy to follow him. Bjorn, Stein’s son, spoke while standing arm in arm with his family, saying that he would try to act like his father, who never prepared a speech but then knocked it out of the park. He talked about how much he missed his father at this time of year when the snow began to fall, and then in true Stein tradition, sang a Norwegian song while guests toasted with aquavit, Stein’s favorite toasting beverage.
The plaque stands for all to see, anytime, and describes Stein’s connection to the Stein Eriksen Lodge, Deer Valley and the sport of skiing. It also says, “Let us take his sunny optimism to heart and carry his memory forth in word and deed.” A celebration of the great Stein Eriksen, free and open to the public, will occur every year on December 11. Be sure to join in honoring his enduring memory, and take his passion for skiing, nature and friends into your own experience.
Originally written by Kristen Gould Case for Deer Valley Resort.