Olympic ski champion Stein Eriksen dies

Olympic ski champion Stein Eriksen had died at the age of 88 his family has announced.

His name has been synonymous with style and elegance among ski fans since his gold and silver medal victories in the 1952 Oslo Olympics Games.

Having also won three gold medals at the World Championships in Äre, Sweden in 1954 in slalom, giant slalom and the combined races, he was the first alpine skier to win triple gold at the event.

Following this success Eriksen is credited with pioneering modern freestyle skiing in the United States.

A Norway native, he lived in the US for six decades, splitting his time between Park City and a home in Montana his wife Francoise and four children.

In recent years he worked as director of ski at the Deer Valley ski resort, while also lending his name to the Stein Eriksen Ski Lodge at the destination.

Prior to joining Deer Valley, he was involved in the development of the Park City Ski Area (now Park City Mountain Resort), which was formerly owned by Edgar Stern, who later built Deer Valley. 

Before coming to Park City, he spent four years as director of skiing and ski school director at Snowmass, Colorado, and four years as ski school director of Sugarbush, Vermont. 

He also served as ski school director and owned his own sport shop in Aspen, Colorado. 

Early life

Eriksen was born on December 11th 1927 in Oslo.

His future career was never in much doubt; the family lived near the Holmenkollen ski jump and his father, Marius, was an Olympic gymnast and noted Nordic ski competitor.

His older brother, Marius Jnr, was also a ski racer.

His father built a mini slalom course and ski jump in the back garden which was lit by candles at night, and as soon as the young Eriksen could walk he was on skis.

He began competing aged seven and his parents enrolled him into gymnastics classes to build up his physique.

The lessons were the foundation for his later aerial stunts.

In the 1960s he immigrated to the United States, invited to the Sun Valley Ski School as a guest instructor. 

While there, he astounded the world with his unique reverse-shoulder technique and also by performing the first forward somersault with a full layout on skis. 

Although skiers had performed somersaults in earlier years, no one had combined it with a “swan dive” prior to Eriksen’s acrobatic feat. 

He may very well lay claim to being the father of the inverted aerials that we see in competition today. 

Skiing honour

In 1997, Eriksen was awarded the Knight First Class honour 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. 

In 2002 he served as an Olympic ambassador to the Salt Lake City games, 50 years after his own Olympic triumphs.

Most recently Eriksen was honoured with the World Ski Awards Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, in November 2015.

He is survived by his wife, Francoise, and by a son and three daughters.