September 14, 2011
Úlfar Skæringsson peacefully passed away at his home in Aspen, surrounded by his family, on Sept. 2. He was 80 years old.
Úlfar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Oct. 29, 1930. He was the only child of his father, Skæringur Markusson, and the fifth child of his mother, Margret Halldorsdottir.
Úlfar grew up in Reykjavik but spent summers in his father’s family farm near Vik i Myrdal on the southern coast of Iceland. Úlfar showed both artistic and athletic talent from a young age, competing in track and later in skiing. He was one of three Icelanders selected to go to the Winter Olympics in 1956 in Cortina, Italy. He wasn’t able to attend because his job wouldn’t allow him the time off. Two years later, he competed in the World Championships in Bad Gastein, Austria.
Úlfar met his wife, Hjördis, on a ski trip in April 1950. They were married in Reykjavik in June 1956. They had three children, Áslaug, Markus and Edda.
In December 1960, Úlfar came to Aspen when Stein Erickson, a friend from the World Cup tour, asked him to help start the ski school at Aspen Highlands. In 1963, he moved to Aspen Mountain to teach skiing and later he ran the ski school there. Around 1966, he helped Curt Chase create the “Aspenaut” program, a kids ski program that continues today. He was also a volunteer coach for the Aspen Ski Club, putting on races and helping train some of Aspen’s best ski racers.
From 1968 through 1984, he was in charge of the preparations for the World Cup and NorAm races in Aspen. He created and built what is known as the “Berlin Wall” at the bottom of Spring Pitch. Many of the people in charge of Aspen’s World Cup today trained and worked under Úlfar. All who worked under him affectionately called him “Dad.”
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After teaching skiing for many years Úlfar “retired” to working in the rental/retail department at the Aspen Skiing Co. in 1988, working at Buttermilk, Two Creeks and finally Aspen Highlands where he was tuning and repairing skis, fitting ski boots and taking care of guests until closing day of this year. He had an incomparable understanding of the mechanics and artistry of skiing and was a master ski tuner. Even after he was unable to ski, he still knew how every ski preformed. Úlfar was an icon in the ski world and his wisdom and love for the sport is going to be missed.
In addition to skiing, Úlfar had a very successful landscaping business. Starting in 1962, he designed the gardens of many beautiful homes in Aspen and planted many of the trees that populate Aspen’s landscape. Starting in 1997, his daughter, Áslaug, worked alongside him and continues the business today. He was an exceptional artist and had an extraordinary talent at design.
Úlfar’s friends remember him as a good and kind person, and the guy who always was there to help and solve problems. They also remember him as a “clothes horse” and said he sometimes changed clothes between runs in a ski race. He always wore an ascot tied around his neck, weather he was digging in a garden or tuning skis.
Úlfar exemplified humility. He worked almost every day of his life and expected nothing but perfection and the best of not only himself but of those around him. He had a quiet but grand presence and a way of charming everyone. He has left an indelible mark on Aspen and its people.
Úlfar is survived by: his daughters, Áslaug Skæringsson Wright of Aspen and Edda Braga Coscioni of Chicago; his three granddaughters, Kristin Braga Wright of Aspen, Alexandra Rose Coscioni and Gabriella Braga Coscioni of Chicago; and stepson Sigurour Einarsson of Reykjavik, Iceland. He is preceded in death by his wife, Hjördis Braga Skæringsson, and their son, Markus Úlfar Skæringsson.
Memorial contributions to be made in lieu of flowers to: The Ulfar Skaeringsson Memorial Fund at Alpine Bank, 600 E. Hopkins Ave., Suite 001 Aspen, CO 81611 (970-920-4800). Memorial services will be announced at a later date.