Photos reproduced by permission of Special Collections Dept., J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah (click for larger image)



The Marriott Library’s Ski Archives are a hidden treasure for winter sports buffs.

It doesn’t have the musty smell of a darkened attic. Doesn’t look like one either. No cobwebs, dusty steamer trunks, and old hat boxes.

Appearances aside, the Special Collections Department on the fifth floor of the J. Willard Marriott Library is the attic of the University of Utah.

More than a million photos, some dating back to the 1880s, confirm that status. So do thousands of documents, books, booklets, bangles, and bunting, including vintage copies of the Utonian yearbook, decades-old student orientation handbooks, scientific papers, engineering and mining documents, political rhetoric, theses, significant research scribblings, and buildings and grounds blue-prints drafted in the days when the University was a seedling.

This trove of trivia and triumphs is also home to a burgeoning segment with particular relevance to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games: the Ski Archives, the holy grail of winter sports history in Utah and the West.

The archives contain a host of snow-related treasures, including:

• 16,000 photographs, some dating to the 1800s • Nearly 200 films and videos • 75 oral histories, spanning 80 years of skiing in the West • 100 personal collections, ranging from comprehensive photo and file collections to scrapbooks, letters, and $4.50/day ski lift ticket stubs • Records of the Professional Ski Instructors of America/Intermountain Division • Photo collections of the U.S. Forest Service’s role in ski safety and multiple use of public lands. Numerous individuals who nurtured winter recreation and helped make it a major economic force in Utah have donated materials to the collection, which continues to grow. Among its prominent collections are those of:

Mark Strand
, a Norwegian immigrant who discovered to his dismay that “Salt Lake residents didn’t do anything with snow except shovel it and cuss it.” A fervent promoter of skiing and ski jumping, he formed the first ski club in the region in 1915.

Alf Engen, another Norwegian immigrant, who won more than 500 ski tournaments, set world ski jumping records at Ecker Hill (near the Utah Olympic Park) in the 1930s, coached the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team (comprised mostly of Utahns), made powder skiing into an art form, and, as director of the Alta Ski School, taught thousands to ski.

Bill Lash BS’53, founder of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

Jim Gaddis BS’62, national collegiate ski champion under the University banner.

Alan Engen BS’63 BFA’63, former University ski team member, director of the ski school at Alta, and historian/author.

Pat Miller MS’78, whose 25-year tenure (1974-99) as University ski team coach included eight combined, one men’s, and one women’s NCAA championships, and 251 skiers who won All-American recognition.


Got a scrapbook full of photos and news clippings of your skiing exploits? The University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library has a place for it: the Ski Archives.

In an effort to locate, preserve, and catalog items of historical interest, the archives program has formed a University Alumni Committee. The group, directed by Katrina Terzian Jensen BSN’88 MSN’93, a member of three University ski teams and a two-time All-American, encourages ski team alumni to contribute their collections (or copies thereof) to the library.

For more information, contact Greg Thompson, assistant director of the library and co-founder of the Ski Archives, at 801-581-8046 or

Like its thousands of entries, the Ski Archives has an interesting genesis.

In 1988, when Alta Ski Lifts Company was observing its 50th anniversary, it looked to purge its storage areas of photos, maps, charts, newsletters, and news clippings, some dating to its 1870s mining roots.

The late Sue Raemer, a ski instructor at Alta and development director at the Marriott Library, heard of the proposed housecleaning and contacted Greg Thompson MA’71 PhD’81, assistant director for special collections at the library. Their archival instincts and foresight salvaged the treasured cache. Supplemented by a financial contribution from the ski lifts company, those files formed the foundation of the Ski Archives.

Raemer served as the first chair of the Ski Affair advisory board from 1988 to 1993, then as co-chair until her death in 1995. Her contribution to the library’s collection is rekindled annually at the Ski Affair fund-raising dinner when the Sue Raemer Memorial Volunteer Award is presented to an individual who exemplifies her zeal and enthusiasm for the Ski Archives.

That zeal is even more evident as the 2002 Games approach. “We have received inquiries and photo requests ranging from NBC-TV to writers from small newspapers in Asia and Europe as well as historians and researchers,” says Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91, multimedia archivist. As repository of the records of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee of the 2002 Games, the Ski Archives will be the guardian of a long and multi-faceted tale.

In addition, post-Games, in the summer of 2002, the $10 million, 29,000-square-foot, privately funded Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center/Alf Engen Ski Museum will open at the Utah Olympic Park, the repository of multi-dimensional ski memorabilia for the Ski Archives.

The center/museum, along with the Ski Archives (and its accompanying Web site,, will offer future generations an epic story—one filed right between nostalgia and preservation.

Mike Korologos BS’59, founding member of the Ski Archives and longtime ski writer, is director of public relations for Riester Robb Harris & Love.