Engen museum opens doors

Festivities include aerialists, blessing

Published: Saturday, July 6 2002 12:00 a.m. MDT

BEAR HOLLOW — After a somewhat quiet opening more than a month ago, the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center/Alf Engen Museum officially opened on Friday with a grand ceremony that included an American Indian blessing and freestyle aerialists falling into a pool of water.

The opening brings to actuality a project that began more than 13 years ago with an idea. Now, the $10 million-plus center is open and ready for visitors.

The sports center/museum is part of the Utah Olympic Park near Kimball Junction in Park City. Currently, the center houses the museum, a gift shop, cafe and temporary Olympic photo exhibit. By next year the photos will be replaced by a 2002 Utah Olympic exhibit.

Ceremonies Friday included remarks from Craig Lehto, director of the park; Randy Dryer, chairman of the Utah Athletic Foundation; David Amidon, executive director of Alf Engen Foundation; and Alan Engen, Alf's son and the one who spearheaded the project.

The event also involved a representative from the Engen brothers' — Alf, Sverry and Cory — hometown of Enga, Norway, who made a presentation to the museum in recognition of the Engens and another to the only surviving brother, Cory.

After which, Clifford Duncan, a member of the Ute tribe of southern Utah, in American Indian dress, "spoke with the spirits" and gave the center a blessing.

The ceremony concluded with the traditional cutting of the ribbon by Dryer and Evelyn Engen, Alf's wife, with scissors fashioned from a pair of early wooden skis.

It was 13 years ago that Alan Engen first approached the idea of building a museum in recognition of his father's contributions to American skiing. Originally, the idea was to build a small A-frame building near Alta, where Alf Engen skied and operated the Alf Engen Ski School.

Alf Engen taught skiing for more than 60 years, was a national ski champion many times, helped design and build more then 30 ski resorts, most notably Alta, and helped pioneer both ski equipment and skiing techniques.

Alan Engen called the museum "unquestionably the most unique ski museum in the country."

Intentions from the beginning, he said, were to create something where people could not only see but also do. So, along with the regular museum items, which include a display of old equipment, there are a number of interactive exhibits.

The center was completed last fall and turned over to the Salt Lake Olympic Committee as a media center for the Games. After the Olympics, workers began to transform the building into the sports center/museum.

Among those who contributed to building the center was former foundation director Randy Montgomery, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1999.

Plans call for rotating exhibits and guest speakers at the museum. The center also will be available for conventions and weddings.

For now, when guests arrive for a tour at the Utah Olympic Park, they will be shown the bobsled track, ski jumps, freestyle training pool and the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center/Alf Engen Museum.


E-MAIL: grass@desnews.com

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