Hall of Fame Class of 1973
Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Frank Elkins.
Harald “Pop” Sorensen became one of this country’s most popular skiing figures. He was a rugged competitor with an enviable string of achievements in the classic Nordic events and a top-flight instructor in recreational and competitive skiing.
Harald “Pop” Sorensen was born in Asker (Vollen), Norway in 1907 and began skiing at an early age so he could get to school. His competitive career began at age 13 with triumphs at Hyttli Hill outside Oslo. He won many junior meets and then advanced to Class “A”, placing second in tryouts for the world-famous Holmenkollen one-tenth point behind the fabulous Sigmund Ruud, placed third in the Holmenkollen, third in the Norwegian Nationals and third in the Swedish Nationals, besides combined laurels in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Pop continued his awesome career as both a competitor and a gentleman after coming to the United States in 1929.
Harald thrilled literally millions throughout North America and Europe with his achievements. His record perhaps has no parallel in ski sport over six decades. Twice he was a member of the National Ski Association’s All-American Jumping Team and he captures the Eastern, New York State, New England, Northwest and a host of the other crowns. He cracked hill records at Norsemen, Bear Mountain, Staten Island, Brattleboro, Norway Ski Club and Rumford slides, twice finished runner-up in Class ”A” Nationals and was picked for the 1936 United States Olympic Team but could not compete in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany because he hadn’t yet received his citizen papers.
His dynamic army career for Uncle Sam came next. He taught the Eastern experimental ski patrol at Old Forge, New York, continued to instruct the 87th Regiment, the Second Division and was one of 20 American instructors attached to the British Mountain School, teaching skiing to all the allied forces in Italy.
Pop became a National Jumping Judge in 1937 and coached the U.S. Ski Team in the World Nordic Championships at Lake Placid in 1950, was Olympic jump coach for his country in 1952 at Oslo, Norway and became a certified ski instructor in 1946. He taught hundreds of children the art of ski jumping while serving as a civilian instructor to the Army.
While his imposing competitive record reads like a “Who’s Who” in international skiing, the ever-congenial and well-liked Sorensen’s charm, wit and enthusiasm transmitted the “greatest love possible” – that of skiing. It helped mold such illustrious ski jumpers as Torger Tokle, Art Devlin, Jay Rand and the Perry-Smith brothers.
At Winter Park, Colorado this powerful and ever-graceful “flyer” taught hundreds of youngsters in the Denver Post-winter Ski School. Free to kids from 4 to 18, Pop’s ski school for jumpers took place on an amazing complex of nine hills, each higher until a 60-meter slide provides the finishing touches for the more expert.
To culminate his achievements, Sorensen received two outstanding awards in 1971. They were the Russell Wilder Memorial “in recognition of the year’s most outstanding activity in focusing the interests of America’s youth on the sport of skiing”, presented by the United States Ski Association and the Halstad Memorial Award, the highest honor given by the Rocky Mountain Division “to the individual who has done the most for skiing during the year”.
Harald Sorensen had an ever-smiling face and helpful manner, a “Norke” who earned his niche in the ski world was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1973.
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