Three Utahns Inducted Into Intermountain Ski Hall Of Fame

Aug 17, 2018

Three Utahns will be the latest inductees to the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame, in a ceremony scheduled next month.

The Hall of Fame is a collaboration between two major entities. The J. Willard Marriott Library Ski Archives sets up a committee that nominates the honorees.

The Alf Engen Ski Museum, located at the Utah Olympic Park, is a sponsor for the ceremony and it houses the plaques for those who are honored.

The director of the museum, Connie Nelson, said they’re honoring two living recipients and one deceased inductee this year.

The first she said, is Gary DeSeelhost, who was the guiding hand of the Solitude Ski Resort for many years.

“He, in 1977, answered a Wall Street Journal ad. He was a business man from Phoenix and all over the Untied States. Hard worker and did all sorts of risky businesses and succeeded. He saw this ad and thought, well I’m going to buy this ski resort, this troubled ski resort in Big Cottonwood canyon in 1977." Nelson continued, "38 years later he was still there, he transformed Solitude into a world class destination, and of course just sold it in 2015. He still lives up there with his wife Betsy and is still a part of Solitude.”

Next is the late Mel Fletcher, a life-long resident of Park City, with roots in its mining era, who was involved in the early years of the ski resort industry.

“In 1946 he was the first ski school director at Snow Park, which is of course now Deer Valley. In 1965 he was named ski patrol director at the Treasure Mountain ski area, of course that’s Park City Mountain now." Nelson said, "Then he went to Gorgoza, he just kept going down the canyon here in Park City. He was the patrol director at Gorgoza in 1981.”

The third recipient was in KPCW’s studios—Barbara Yamada, an organizer with the Marriott Ski Archives. She said she wasn’t able to become a ski racer, but she became a ski official and that led to a lot of great experiences over the years.

“Asked to be the chief referee for the men’s downhill at Snowbasin when it was known as CanAm and now it’s known as the NorAm. Then I was invited to be one of the few women race officials at Copper Mountain when they had—I think this was in 1973 or ’74—the women’s junior nationals which is now known as junior Olympics." Yamada continued, "Then (I) became involved with ski history. One of the charter members of the ski archives which we started in 1988.”

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for Thursday, September 20th, 6:00 pm at the Utah Olympic Park. Tickets are $100 each. Nelson said as of Thursday, there were 26 seats left.

On a related topic, she said that every year they plan a new addition to the Museum.

“This year we’re going to install the Alf Engen trophy case King of the Hill. It’s fabulous, his trophies, he has hundreds of trophies that are on display right now. We’re really excited to have those displayed in a more modern way." Nelson said, "We’re looking at the different lighting and also having some touchscreen activity so that people can understand each of the trophy’s and what it meant. Bring more life to the trophy case. Alf is the namesake of our museum and his is athlete of the century. We want to make sure that we represent him correctly and have everyone be educated on how important it was to our future and to our current ski history.”