Ski Hall of Fame will induct Stern, developer of Aspen’s Starwood, creator of Deer Valley
SKIING HISTORY WEEK
Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.: 24th annual International Skiing Heritage Association Awards, honoring the best books and films of 2015, Hotel Jerome
Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.: Bogner Freestyle Rooftop Reunion, world premier of Bogner film, “A Tribute to Freestyle,” Mountain Chalet rooftop
Friday, Legacy Lecture Series, “The Man on the Medal” about Dick Durrance from 6 to 7 p.m. and “Freedom Found, Warren Miller, My Life,” from 7 to 8 p.m.
Friday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Hall of Fame alumni party, “Legends Live Here” at Sky Hotel.
Saturday, 6:15 to 9 p.m. Hall of Fame dinner and induction at the St. Regis, with cocktail reception at 5 p.m. There will be an afterburner party at 10 p.m. at the Sky Hotel.
A visionary man who directly influenced Aspen’s luxury real estate market and set the bar for ski-resort service will be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame on Saturday at the St. Regis Hotel.
Edgar Stern, who died in October 2008, will be among the seven ski-industry figures inducted. Snowboard Olympian Chris Klug of Aspen also will be honored, as previously reported.
Stern came to Aspen from New Orleans in 1968. He moved on from Aspen in the early 1970s, but he made his mark on the Roaring Fork Valley in that short time.
He purchased ranchland and developed Aspen’s first ultra-luxury subdivision at Starwood. Through his Royal Street Corp., he also developed the Red Mountain Ranch luxury subdivision and the Tipple Inn Condominiums.
Stern also ingrained himself in the community. He was a member of the Music Associates of Aspen board of directors, which oversees the Aspen Music Festival and School, and he served on the Aspen Valley Hospital board. His lasting legacy in town was the founding of Aspen Country Day School.
“He was a man of vision and courage,” said Terry Hale, an Aspen man who got to know Edgar and Polly Stern when he married their former daughter-in-law. Hale said his wife, Joanne Stern, remained close to the Sterns after her divorce from their son. Hale said he had several opportunities to talk with Edgar Stern and became more impressed with his accomplishments the more he learned.
Surrounded himself with the best
Hale hired a film company from Utah to make a documentary about Edgar Stern. Hale has traveled the country when possible in the past few years to interview people who knew and often worked for Stern.
Hale said the common thread in everything he has learned is that Stern recognized talented people, got them on his team and treated them so well they didn’t want to leave.
“He hired the best people around him,” Hale said.
While still living in Aspen, Stern and some associates purchased an old apartment building on San Francisco’s Nob Hill and developed the luxurious Stanford Court Hotel and its restaurant, which drew accolades for service and became a model for Deer Valley lodging.
Hale said Stern was always ambitious and needed a project to keep him occupied.
“He got a little bored after he got Starwood rolling,” Hale said.
Lured Eriksen to Utah
Stern’s biography from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame said Stern and associates bought Treasure Mountain Resort in Utah in 1970 and reorganized it as Park City Resort (now Park City Mountain Resort).
He lured Norwegian ski icon Stein Eriksen, ski school director at Aspen Highlands and later at Snowmass, to Park City. Stern sold his interest in Park City in 1975 and set his sights on establishing the new ski resort of Deer Valley in Utah. He took Eriksen with him and also relied on Friedl Pfeifer, a pioneer of skiing in Aspen, for advice on cutting the first Deer Valley trails.
Deer Valley set a standard in the industry for everything from food to grooming to customer service.
“The Deer Valley difference worked,” said the bio prepared by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. “From the moment guests arrived, uniformed valets carried their gear from parking lot to lodge. Impeccable grooming, gourmet dining and elegant lodging added to enhance the ski experience. The resort grew from five to 21 lifts and now covers 100 runs on six bowls on six mountains.”
Father of Utah skiing
Hale said Stern was a humble man who lived by the credo “You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish if you don’t need credit for it.”
Hale noted, “You’ll never find Edgar Stern’s name on anything.”
Deer Valley’s approach accelerated the move by part of the ski industry to go after the luxury market. Hale said former Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Bob Maynard kept an eye on Stern’s moves at Deer Valley.
Klaus Obermeyer, an icon of Aspen’s ski industry since struggling to keep customers in the Aspen Mountain Ski School in the 1940s, said Stern “was just a great guy.”
“He loved skiing. He loved the mountains, and he had a lot of money,” Obermeyer said with a laugh. “He did things others couldn’t afford.”
The Utah Legislature honored Stern in 1992 as “father of Utah’s ski industry.”
The Ski Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony will be held at the St. Regis from 6:15 to 9 p.m. with special tributes to Eriksen and alpine racer Billy Johnson, who both died this winter. Tickets are available at http://www.skihall.com or 906-485-6323.
The event is part of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame’s Skiing History Week (see inset box).
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Aspen’s dirty downtown alleys are enough of a blight that the city government is taking the initiative to clean them up this week.