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Alf Engen

Hall of Fame Class of 1959

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Alf Engen was an excellent athlete, especially in soccer and Nordic skiing. He is one of this country’s most decorated ski jumpers. Between 1934 and 1949 he won the majority of the events in which he competed. At the same time he was a major contributor to the opening up of skiing in the Intermountain region of the United States.

Alf Engen was born in Mjondalen, Norway on May 15, 1909. He was a man who demonstrated and positively influenced the sport of skiing competition and promotion, perhaps as few others have.

In 1929 he immigrated to America. He was a young ski jumper of great promise and ability. After a brief time with relatives in Chicago he went on his own. Over time he was able to use his considerable athletic skills, both in soccer and ski jumping, to make friends and to learn the language and customs of his new land.

He came to be recognized as a great athlete and a fierce competitor as he matured and added strength to his powerful frame. By 1931, at the age of 22, Alf won the National Professional Jumping Championship after previously winning numerous regional titles.

Then came a long series of titles: both professional and amateur, in jumping, alpine events, downhill and slalom, the latter a new adventure starting in 1936. He returned to the amateur ranks in 1937. During the golden years of his youth this iron man captured the national professional jumping title five times, the amateur three times and the Open Class once.

In between these were two National Amateur and Open Classic titles, two four-way opens, five championships in downhill, slalom and combined crowns. He was chosen to be on jumping, downhill and slalom team events for the 1940 US Olympic Team. Those games were never held because of World War Two. In 1948 he was selected as one of the Olympic ski coaches. He put away his racing skis in 1948 to turn to full-time skiing development activities.

During his competitive years Engen was employed by the United States Forest Service as a technical advisor: assisting and planning the development of winter sport areas on national forests in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. He also worked as sports advisor and supervisor to the budding new, great ski center of Sun Valley, Idaho. In total, some twenty-seven ski areas within the Intermountain region were planned and designed with the touch of Alf Engen. Turning to professional ski instructing, he settled down to organizing and directing Utah’s Alta Ski School for the Salt Lake Winter sports association.

In 1940 Alf received the American Ski Trophy and Americanism Award. The Norwegian Ski Association’s highest award was presented to him in 1948 as an ambassador of goodwill and sportsmanship.

Other recognition followed. He qualified as Master Instructor in 1949 and received the Skier of the Century Award in 1950. The Helms Hall of Fame Award came in 1954. Finally the Utah ski cup went to ALF In 1966, adding to the more than 500 that he had received in the athletic spectrum of soccer, skiing, hockey and ice skating in America and Europe. An Alf Ski Museum was established in Park City, Utah as a tribute to his career.

Alf Engen was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1959.

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