“A zest for life”: Remembering Magne Nostdahl, longtime Snowmass ski instructor
A celebration of life for Magne Nostdahl was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 11 at the Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass Ski Area. However, with the ever-changing state of the COVID-19 outbreak, the family plans to reschedule the celebration to a later date this summer. When that date is decided, a brief will run in the Snowmass Sun and The Aspen Times.
There are a lot of words and phrases used to describe Magne Nostdahl, the Norwegian native, longtime ski instructor and one of the Snowmass ski school’s founding pros who died last month at 85.
Mike Kaplan, president and CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co. described Magne in a letter as a strong life force who “embodied everything that I love about this industry and this community.”
John Kneiper, manager of Skico’s ski and snowboard schools in Snowmass, wrote in a letter that Magne was a pillar of the Snowmass school with his radiant personality and love for sharing the mountain with others.
But all of the people who knew Magne, including his family, say he’ll be most remembered for his unfailing good nature and big, ever-present smile.
“He was seriously the happiest man I ever knew,” said Karin Nostdahl Wehse, one of Magne’s daughters. “He was so pleasant with people and so forgiving and so generous. He made everyone feel really good and I am just so proud to be his daughter.”
Wehse was born and raised in the Aspen-Snowmass area, went to CU Boulder, then followed in her dad’s footsteps and taught at the village’s ski resort. Her brother Svein and her son Erik also taught skiing at Snowmass, making the Nostdahls the ski school’s first three-generation instructor family in its history.
When asked what values her dad imparted on her and her two siblings, Wehse said the three had a great relationship with Magne growing up and into adulthood, and that he encouraged them to be adventurous, let them make their own mistakes, but was always there to catch them when they fell.
Wehse feels Magne’s approach to and love for life has rubbed off on all of his children and grandchildren, and that the family will continue to take part in all of the things he loved most, like skiing, biking and spending time in the mountains.
Magne first taught skiing during the winter of 1958-59 in Norway. That summer, Stein Eriksen, Olympic and World Champion ski racer, held interviews in Oslo for his ski school at Aspen Highlands.
Magne was interviewed and accepted to join the school as an instructor, which he did in winter 1959. Two years into his 50-year career teaching at all four Aspen-Snowmass mountains (42 years at Snowmass), Nostdahl met his wife, Connie, and they were together ever since.
“I had only planned to stay one winter,” Connie said, noting she and Magne married about a year after they met.
From running their own Norwegian-inspired gift shop in downtown Aspen called Scandinavian Design, to downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, biking, traveling and spending time together as a family, Connie said she and Magne loved residing in the Aspen-Snowmass community and is grateful for their life here.
“Magne was just a very unique partner through life. He had a zest for life, great ambitions and lots of insight into everything life threw at us,” Connie said.
“I gained so much from Magne. … I feel very fortunate to have lived the life I did with him. We hated to see him leave us, but after 58 years and him leaving us at 85, I just feel very, very blessed.”
But while Magne was loved deeply by his family, Connie said he also was well-loved by the Aspen-Snowmass community, which she feels speaks to his strong character and the positive influence he had on everyone he interacted with.
“Magne loved life, he was very special to everybody and very well-loved in this valley,” Connie said. “At age 85, he’s well remembered and will continue to be.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Nostdahl was one of the Snowmass ski school’s founding ski pros, not a co-founder of the school.
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The town of Snowmass Village has its eyes on some safety improvements on Highline Road and a section of Brush Creek Road that will give pedestrians and cyclists a little more room to breathe on the side of the road.