Alf Engen Ski Museum 3-31-14

International Skiing History Week began this evening with a reception at the Alf Engen Ski Museum, on the outskirts of Park City, Utah.

This annual celebration of skiing history in America and abroad runs through Saturday. Click here to view schedule.

Alan Engen and Connie Nelson pose for the photographer at the Alf Engen Ski Museum

Alan Engen and Connie Nelson pose for the photographer at the Alf Engen Ski Museum

I had a nice chat with the museum’s executive director, Connie Nelson, who introduced me to Alan Engen, son of the organization’s namesake and author of two wonderful books on Utah skiing: “First Tracks” and “For Love of Skiing.”

In the photo above, Alan and Connie pose for me in front of the large display case, titled “King of the Hill,” which is devoted to Alf Engen memorabilia. There’s lots of it!

Born in Norway, Alf Engen emigrated to the U.S. in 1929, settling in Utah two years later. In his heyday as an athlete, Engen was a four-event national champion. Historically speaking, he is best remembered for his crucial contributions to developing the sport and industry in the Intermountain West.

He is most associated with Alta, where he directed the ski school for decades, and Snowbasin, where he was involved in starting the resort. Click here for details on Snowbasin’s history.

The ski museum is one of the prime attractions of Utah Olympic Park, which is located on the northern fringe of Park City. I am familiar with ski museums in a number of states, and Engen is by far the most impressive.

I’m particularly impressed by the breadth of coverage. Utah ski history is obviously at the forefront, but the displays include modern topics, such as avalanche control, plus the bumper crop of Olympic skiers who call the Beehive State home. Among them is Ted Ligety, a Park City native who recently copped the Olympic gold medal in giant slalom and ranks as the only American to win two Olympic golds in skiing.