Skiing legend Stein Eriksen, whose expertise and grace were compared to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and virtuoso dancer-actor Fred Astaire, died at his Utah home Dec. 27. Skiing History magazine called Eriksen "the most famous skier of his generation."
Eriksen won three gold medals for his home nation of Norway in the 1954 world skiing championships, but moved to the United States shortly thereafter. In 1990, ski writer Nicholas Howe recalled watching Eriksen on Sun Valley's Bald Mountain, comparing him to DiMaggio and Astaire.
“As Michelangelo found a way to infuse the eternal rest of sculpture with motion, so Stein could make the most extravagant moves seem restful. Watching him on Baldy that winter, we understood that nobody skied like Stein.”The Idaho Mountain Express reports Eriksen had been invited to Idaho by Sun Valley Resort founder Averell Harriman to teach skiing—an offer he accepted, coaching scores of junior racers and launching their successful ski careers.
In his 1986 autobiography, Come Ski With Me, Eriksen credited Sun Valley with "being integral to his distinctive skiing style," according to the Mountain Express, which described the style as "skis planted firmly together, lots of counter-rotation and hips set well into the hill."
According to The New York Times, Eriksen's death was confirmed by Utah's Deer Valley Ski Resort, where the 88-year-old had been director of skiing for more than three decades. He is survived by his wife, son, three daughters and five grandchildren.