Legendary Skier Stein Eriksen Passes Away

Stein Eriksen, the legendary alpine skier whose revolutionary technique and distinctive style made him a founder of modern skiing, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 27, 2015 at his home in Park City, Utah surrounded by family. He was 88 years old.

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As one of the most recognized names in the ski world, Stein Eriksen has been synonymous with skiing style and elegance for more than 60 years. The first alpine skier to win triple gold at a world championship, an Olympic Gold Medalist and ambassador and father of freestyle skiing, Stein Eriksen parlayed all that he knew and loved about the sport into an incredible career that spanned almost six decades and changed the face of alpine skiing worldwide.

The patriarch of elegant skiing, Eriksen successfully turned his passion for skiing into a lifetime career. His desire to develop an internationally-renowned luxury hotel, which now bears his name, is located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort, where he served as Director of Skiing for more than 35 years.

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“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. He was a true inspiration and we are honored to have had him as a part of the Deer Valley family.”

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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.”

Born December 11, 1927, Eriksen originally gained 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.

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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.

Among his numerous awards and honors, Eriksen was awarded the Knight First Class honor in 1997 by His Majesty the King of Norway as a reward for outstanding service in the interest of Norway, indicating his dedication to his home country. His contribution to the world of sports and his commitment to the people of his homeland also earned him the Royal Order of Merit. In recognition of his pioneering spirit and contribution to the early development of the ski industry, Stein received the Pioneer Award from the Intermountain Ski Areas Association (ISAA) in 1998. Eriksen served as an Olympic Ambassador at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, during which some events took place at his home mountain of Deer Valley Resort and coincided with the 50th anniversary of his Olympic medals. Eriksen was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Hall of Fame in 2013. In April of 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Utah Sports Commission. Eriksen was also awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Ski Tourism by World Ski Awards in 2015.

Stein was frequently sought out by the thousands of skiers to which he taught the sport and was always happy to stop for a visit and a photo. He took great pride and joy in his past students and guests and making them feel special. In addition to his numerous accomplishments and awards, Stein will be remembered for his charisma, kindness and approachable nature.

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

84 Responses

  1. I have known Stein for many years and have had the pleasure of dining with him on several occasions during the FIS World Cup at Deer Valley. He will be missed by all of us that had the pleasure of knowing him.

  2. David Finney says:

    I had the great pleasure of skiing with Stein for one run down at Boyne Mountain back in 1978 – a moment I will never forget! God Bless and thank you for your great contribution to the sport.

  3. Benjamin and Sharon Malvinni says:

    Dear Mrs. Eriksen, We only met your husband twice, but both times were memorable My wife and I were skiing in Deer Valley over 10 years ago and we asked a gentleman at the base of the Stein Lodge for some information . I asked him if he could point a good run for us, as we were new to to the area. In his pleasant voice he told us and pointed to one of the runs near the lift and then he mentioned that we could go up to the lodge on top of the hill for a nice lunch. I asked him ” are you Stein Eriksen” and he replied yes. Then I made the mistake in mentioning that his Swedish hockey team was doing great in the winter Olympics…….he just smiled at us. My wife later corrected me and said that Stein was Norwegian. The second time we met Mr Eriksen was in Peter Glen Sports store in Jupiter. I apologize for my error. He took out a beautiful poster of himself skiing in his famous style and he signed it for Ben and Sherry. What a gentleman. I found the information in the computer about his passing. Our condolences to you and your family.

  4. […] City with both world cup gold medals and gold and silver Olympic alpine ski medals to his name. The late and great founder of modern skiing was the Director of Skiing at Deer Valley for 35 years and passed away […]

  5. Cindy says:

    In 1980 I skied in his class at Deer Valley. His comment as I took my turn, Vunderful! I will never forget that moment.

  6. Ron Pitts says:

    I met Stein in 1962 at Aspen Highlands Ski area.He had a ski school and store.He also taught ski lessons.My father Charles Pitts was part owner at Aspen Highlands along with Whip Jones. Ron Pitts
    RIP Stein

  7. Mindy Hodel says:

    Stein was my skiing idol. I met him when I was with my family on a ski vacation at Sugarbush. I was ten. I wanted his autograph but all I had was a little bar napkin. He took the napkin, left the room, and came back with a poster of that famous photo we all know and he wrote a little note. Later on we had the rare treat of seeing him do his front flip (on those skis and those “bindings”!!!) While we were eating lunch. I was smitten.

  8. Tomi Rawls says:

    I grew up skiing at Boyne Mt Michigan. Everyone was totally stunned at the news that Stein was going to come to Boyne. He seemed destined for a more glamorous life. …and he did have it. While he was at Boyne he was friendly and down to earth…played ping pong with all the kids. He also was responsible for bringing some Austrian Instructors to Boyne….between the accents and the yodeling, we were all enchanted.

  9. Shilah and Ntokozo says:

    I heard many good things about the talented skiing legend. He made a good name for the city of Utah. May his soul rest in peace

  10. Detmar Loerick says:

    I met Stein at Streeter and Quarles at their Ski shop in Place Ville Marie in Montreal.
    I still have aphoto of him in his unique style……. knees together and leaning forward…….
    Thank you Stein for allowing me a brief moment of your time.
    Detmar Loerick
    Montreal Quebec Canada

  11. James Nabozny says:

    Trollhaugen Ski A
    rea, Dresser, Wi
    Winter 1962 .
    Skied with Stein, after he put on a visit skiing presentation with his famous ski flip.

  12. James Nabozny says:

    Stein was loved and admired by many skiers in the Minneapolis,MN skiing community. Dayton’s Dept. Store Ski Shop and Blizzard Ski Club, brought Stein to the Twin Cities, many times . He was loved by many here in MN. Such a beautiful skier and person. Stein off the bowl wall, was pure ,and style. JSN

  13. Lon Lundberg says:

    “Stein” was such an incredible and gracious man with his time for others. I have a photo with him that I treasure from the early 1980’s when I was still in the ski business. To me, he’s been a living legend that lived up to that status without faltering… a true hero and ‘good guy’! Over the years I’ve spoken fondly of him and others that have had the class he had in how he conducted himself and demonstrated life in a high standard.

  14. Chuck Burges says:

    We first met Stein at Sugarbush, and really tried to use his “comma” position. Took some years. Saw him again at Snowmass, enjoyed our chat. Flyfished with him, in our float tubes, at Hidden Lake, high above Elk Lake, MT, and west of Henry’s Lake, ID, on the continental divide. Great fun with a true Gentleman, and Sportsman.

  15. William Sutro says:

    On three separate stays at the Stein Eriksen Lodge I had the unimaginable joy of
    “shadowing” Mr. Eriksen during his legendary afternnon sessions. Why on one occassion there were just two of us on the lift in mid-February I cannot explain. I will forever hold close to my heart the runs taken with one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, and his incomparable style ! Stein Eriksen loved the Lodge, and it will forever be my mountain home. May God bless you, your family, and your exceptional staff at the Lodge. See you soon enough on Heaven’s slopes sir. I’m certain you’re getting your runs in !

  16. Bjorn Bang says:

    I am a Norwegian and I had lunch with him a few time, he was grate guy, I watch race in Norway in 1952 not to far from were I lived then and it was fun see him ski, he is still my hero. Bjorn Bang.

  17. Bruce says:

    My wife and I met Stein while we were having lunch at is Lodge at Deer Valley, very nice to talk to great personality he knew all,About Albany NY where we came from because of he being head of sking at Sugarbush Vt. God Bless him.

  18. Kathy Gilbo says:

    My late husband, Ole Jørgen Gilbo, of Oslo, Norway was always so proud to say that both he and his father, Odd Gilbo, were in the same sports club as Stein Eriksen – Ready- and I can still see the elegant style of “floating” down the ski slopes exemplified by all of them. The lodge is magnificent and is as elegant as these Norwegian gentlemen presented themselves!

    Ole often spoke of the 1952 Olypics and perhaps Mr. Bjørn Bang was also acquainted with him?

  19. kirk crawford says:

    In the second half of the ’60s while living in Boulder, Colorado. I was on a youth ski team sponsored by the Alpine Haus ski shop and coached by Blaze Colt. Stein did a book signing stop there for his book ” Come Ski With Me ” he spoke kindly to everyone in line. I lost the book when I was away in Vietnam. When Snowmass Celebrated it’s 20th birthday, lodges rolled their rates back to $19.68, the opening year. Lift tickets were rolled back to the first season cost of $6.50. I followed Stein around the town, bar hopping to try to get my newer copy of his book signed. Never caught up. 1968, Boulder, CO, Stein, Buddy Werner, Spider Sabich, Jean Claude, Tony Sailor. Colorado is and was a great state.

  20. David Monk says:

    In the early 90’s I was a professional ski patrolman at Deer Valley Resort. I crossed paths with Stein Eriksen on a number of occasions. Each one was a pleasant and memorable experience. On one of these occasions, I had responded to a report of an injured skier in Ontario Bowl (a steep, double black diamond glade). Just as I finished securing the injured skier in the sled, Mr. Eriksen and a contingent of 3 or 4 guests showed up on the scene. I recognized him immediately. In his famously distinct accent he asked if he could be of any assistance. I responded saying of course he could! I handed him the tail rope and said give me enough slack so I can maneuver through the bumps and trees, and give me tension if I get going too fast. He nodded and we proceeded. We all made it down safely. Stein was phenomenal—definitely the most stylish tail-roper I’d ever had!

  21. Allen Jones says:

    I was on the Stanford ski team in 1958. We sometimes trained at Heavenly Valley, where Stein was director of the ski school. Twice a day, Stein would come straight down the main hill, full of moguls and which I skiied with caution, in his inimitable layout, eyes to the sky position, to abruptly and meticulously stop at the edge of the outdoor dining area, flip off his bindings and go in for lunch.

  22. rick jones says:

    A true legend. One word says it all, “Stein”. Just an incredible combination of talents.

  23. Barbara Pikus says:

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer mentioned Stein Eriksen in a recent interview where she said he was a lovely man. It’s caused me to search my old photo albums where I found the photo he kindly allowed me to have taken with him at the base of a ski slope in the late 70’s. He didn’t have to do it, but he smiled kindly, briefly put his arm around my shoulders for the photo and left me feeling very happy. I was sad to learn that he has passed, but glad that he had such a long life.

  24. Hi,
    I am Herb Riemenschneider. I never met Mr Erickson however skied st Deer Valley.I have lived my life in Ohio, but learned to ski. And did so for 50 yrs, while at Deer Valley I became aware of Stine’s thecnique. All of a sudden I turned from a struggling midwestern skier to a smooth skier that could handle most of what the slopes of Deer Valley, Park City, Aspen and Winter Park , m
    Mary Jane could throw at me. St winter Park where I skied most I was asked many times if I had studied with Stine Erickson Anderson no but yes .
    It all came together for me when I put my skis close next to one another , kept them they really used my edges and a shuttle hip movement a weighed instant to kick my heals while keeping my weight forward..
    Thank you Stine for the last 40 years of skiing.!!
    Herb Riemenschneider

  25. John S. says:

    I hated school when I was a boy. I stayed out of the library as much as possible. I was a bad kid and a bad student who would rather be on the slopes than study. But on this one odd occasion that I went to the library I stumbled on a book called “Ski Racing” (Advice by the Experts), and I was enthralled by the advice, photos, diagrams, technology and other info I found there, including several quotes and photos of the Great Stein Eriksen throughout the book. You have to remember there was no internet back then, nor abundant of publications like today, so naturally, finding this treasure and being a bad boy who loved skiing, I stole the book, which I still have to this day by the way some 50 years later. I’m certain it made me a better skier at the expense of others I’m guessing. Yes, guilty as charged.

    Anyway, with my adolescent criminal career behind me, about 20 years ago on a Utah Christmas week ski trip, I was thrilled to actually meet the legend, by chance, while having lunch with my girlfriend at the time in the lodge at Deer Valley – on my birthday of all days. He was gracious enough to pose with us for a photo, and when I told him I stole that book when I was a boy he smiled that big smile of his and chuckled a bit. He remembered the book and the content well and we briefly chatted about that, and the fact that earlier that morning that I raced the course that he set the pace on that day, which I didn’t realize until he told me. I was young and fit and feeling good at the time but Stein’s pacesetting course time easily beat mine by 3+ seconds, though he was in his early seventies then, and no longer racing competitively against Olympic athletes of course. Still, he said I did well and encouraged me to keep at it, which had me beaming, coming from the great ski racing legend Stein Eriksen.

    What a great memory that day was for me. Amazing athlete. Amazing man. Thank you Stein. God rest.

  26. Ted Blacklidge says:

    Wow. Obviously many people loved you. You taught me to ski at Boyne in the mid 50’s. My Dad filmed you ( I have the film) while you waxed my skis. I was about 10. My next 40 + years I did my best to look like you. Never got their but came close. Knees finally gave out. I still own 2 sweaters you brought back to Boyne and gave to my brothers. The one for me I sent to you for display in Deer Valley.
    I am planing my first ski run in a few weeks. Just turned 73.
    Love you , Ted Blacklidge, Michigan

  27. Rosemary Perley Kwauk says:

    I remember when Stein was building his house in Park City. I would see him regularly skiing as he skied by on the left edge of the runs in his light blue ski suit. He didn’t wear a hat over that thick head of hair. I also had one of the handmade sweaters he had in his shop from Norway. Those were a few very happy memories when I lived there.

  28. george waite says:

    I had Stien as instructor for the winter of 1958. He was ski school director at Heavenly Valley. He always had the trade mark sweaters. RIP

  29. Kevin Erdman says:

    Stein, you had the grace on the slopes to make us all want to put our legs together like the old style and “vadel” down the Deer Valley corduroy. You are missed. We hope Heaven has powder days every day!

  30. Fredrik Holtan says:

    Stein, you are my biggest hero! As you saw once, my 6 dekades in Amerika is 100% as i want’ed it to be, a long and happy life, lot of skiing, lot of romance. May you rest in peace mr ski <3

  31. Fredrik Holtan says:

    Stein, you are my biggest hero! As you saw once, my 6 dekades in Amerika is 100% as i want’ed it to be, a long and happy life, lot of skiing, lot of romance. May you rest in peace mr ski.

  32. William Shakespeare says:

    When I was a boy in the 1960s, Stein’s son, Churchill, lived with me in Williston Vermont where we both went to school at Overlake Day School and on the weekends Stein would pick us both up and we would head out to Waitsfield and spend the weekend with Stein, skiing and Sugarbush and playing games in his house, on the white polar bear rug with the head attached.
    I would love to know where Churchill is now just to be able to say hello to him after all these years

  33. Robert Rowe says:

    My father was kind enough to have me get a ski lesson from him in 1958 at heavenly valley. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a very special day in my life.

  34. Mack Foss says:

    I worked at Steins Ski rental shop just after having my hip replaced ( By Steins Ortho Dr…Stein called and said “You have to fix Mack’s hip”) I was limping and Stein said let’s make a couple of runs to cheer you up. I said Stein you are the best skier in the world and I only have one hip…not gonna happen! Beautiful man and always a gentleman.

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