Alf Engen

Alf M. Engen – often said of his beloved Alta, “I have the most beautiful office in the world, here is where I want to be.” Alf was born in Mjondallen, Norway in 1909 and first came to Alta in 1935, at the request of the Forest Service. At that time he was internationally recognized as a world champion ski jumper. Because of his ski prowess, he was retained by the Forest Service to look over Alta’s terrain and make a recommendation as to whether the old mining town would make a reasonable site for a ski area. After a couple of visits, Alf did make a strong favorable recommendation regarding Alta’s potential as a winter sports facility and the rest is history.

Alf’s record of achievements in American competitive skiing is perhaps without parallel. He was a sixteen time winner of the U.S. National Championships in amateur and professional competitions and is the only skier on record to have won the national title in all skiing disciplines (downhill, slalom, jumping, and cross-country), not just once, but twice. He was also the Canadian and North American ski jumping champion in 1937 and set several world ski jumping records, once breaking the world record twice in one day. Alf was coach of the United States Winter Olympic Ski Team in 1948, and he appeared in eight full length motion pictures. As a ski developer, Alf laid out 31 ski areas including Alta and Snowbasin in Utah and Bogus Basin in Idaho.

Following Alf’s coaching of the U.S. Winter Olympic Ski Team in 1948, he moved his family from Sun Valley, Idaho to Utah and took over the ski school at Alta from his brother, Sverre. The ski school quickly gained a strong reputation, known as the Alf Engen Ski School, which he directed until 1989 when he was given the honored title of Alta’s Director of Skiing.

For Alf’s many lifetime accomplishments, he was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1959 and passed away in July 1997, at the age of 88. In late 1999, the Salt Lake Tribune named Alf “Utah’s Athlete of the 20th Century,” an honor which considered outstanding representatives from all summer and winter sports.

Following the 2002 Winter Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, a new “world class” ski museum carrying his namesake was opened to the public at Utah Olympic Park near Park City, Utah.