Stein Eriksen, Norwegian alpine ski racer and six-time Olympic medalist, is hailed as the father of modern downhill skiing.
“Recognized as the Father of Freestyle, Stein Eriksen was a handsome, stylish, and charismatic figure.”
The title plate at The Alf Engen Ski Museum at Utah Olympic Park introduces the beloved legend, champion, and namesake of our property. The museum exhibit celebrates Stein’s legacy and was originally intended to be a temporary display, but visitors adored both the man and the exhibit so much, the museum has decided to keep it and expand on the popular display.
Executive Director, Connnie Nelson, described how fortunate she and the rest of the exhibit committee feel to permanently honor Stein’s legacy in the Olympic museum.
“Everyone has a story [about Stein] and I feel so honored to have his legacy in our museum. I think the thing about Stein that is so interesting is he, like Alf [Engen], was a friend to everyone. He took the time to stop what he was doing. Stein was so cordial and made everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room. That’s quite a gift. And his interest in skiing and getting people excited about skiing - he was a teacher as well as a role model for young people, and also an Olympian. That’s pretty incredible.”
On July 20th 2016, the museum had a special unveiling ceremony of the Stein Eriksen exhibit. They anticipated about fifty people, but the attendance more than doubled their expectations. “We kept looking at each other and going, ‘This is amazing ; Stein is such a part of everyone’s life,’” Connie recalls.
Connie described how she enjoys visiting with guests as they explore the museum. She’s found that over the years, a remarkable number of people have stopped at his exhibit and reflected on their own special memory of an interaction or a time that Stein personally made their day. Connie described one particular instance in which an older lady in a walker was admiring the exhibit. Connie asked, as she often does, if this lady knew him. The lady looked up with a playful grin and replied, “No, I never met him, but I remember him. I remember watching him ski, and he’s hot!”
In addition to the exhibit at the museum, Stein is also featured in The Will and Jean Pickett Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame and The Professional Ski Instructors of America Intermountain Hall of Fame.
Connie concluded her interview with, “He’s part of us. He’s an incredible ski pioneer who has affected and influenced so many people in a positive way, so we want to continue his legacy in a permanent way.”
The Alf Engen Ski Museum is located at The Utah Olympic Park and is open daily from 9am-6pm. Come experience the Stein Eriksen exhibit as well as all the beautiful displays that pay tribute to our town and the heroes that make it so special.