Ski Utah Resort Histories | Nordic Valley

Ski Utah Resort Histories | Nordic Valley

Local Lexi

By Local Lexi \ January 15 2021

The History of Nordic Valley


Established: 1968

Claim to Fame: Leading up to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the Austrian downhill skiers used Nordic Valley as a training venue before their events. The slopes of Nordic Valley proved lucky as they went on to win numerous medals including Fritz Strobl's impressive winning time of 1:39:13 on the Men's Grizzly Downhill course at Snowbasin Resort.

Unique Character: 
Nordic Valley is the only resort in Utah (excluding Woodward Park City) that opens 100% of its terrain for night skiing. This boutique ski hill harbors a welcoming atmosphere that is perfect for families. Nordic Valley was one of the first resorts in Utah to offer night skiing. 

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Terrain Info
Nordic Valley is tucked along the east-facing flank of the Wasatch Mountain Range in Ogden Valley. Located in Eden, Utah, just 25 minutes from downtown Ogden, Nordic Valley is one of the state’s most relaxed and friendly places to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Affordable, approachable and fun, Nordic Valley is awesome for families or those who enjoy night skiing. The wooded trails offer gorgeous views of Ogden Valley and guests will be thrilled to discover a new high-speed chairlift and totally new terrain debuting for the 2020–21 season. Nordic Valley encompasses ideal beginner slopes, terrain parks, glades and powder stashes. 


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What’s in a Name: Nordic Valley

Nordic Valley was named by its founder, Arthur Christiansen, in a nod to his Norwegian roots. Just look to many of the ski runs, local streets and Odin Hall for many additional odes to the founder's Norwegian heritage.


From Rural Roots

In 1960 the idyllic Silver Bell Ranch, a 900-acre mountainside retreat, was purchased from Taylor Burton by Arthur Christiansen. This renowned developer from Ogden, Utah was president of the Utah Home Builders Association and he hoped to create an oasis and summer home. Over time, he sold small lots and played a role in developing the area and building homes around the ranch. At the time, sledding and tobogganing was a winter tradition along the foothills of the ranch. With help from enthusiastic locals, plans were eventually laid to construct two chairlifts and a number of ski runs. 

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Arthur had dreams of creating a 9-hole golf course and opened a 5-hole course designed by Ernie Schneider Sr. in 1966. The remaining 4 holes were completed the following year. The golf course was maintained for many years before it was eventually parceled out for home sites. The favored sledding hill nearby was graced with a tow rope in 1968 and Nordic Valley became another jewel in the crown of Northern Utah’s powder country. The tow was suitable for beginners and locals got their start on the gentle slopes of these Wasatch foothills. A number of years later, a double chairlift was added and more terrain was prepared to suit skiers with new runs in 1970. Shortly after, the original tow rope was replaced with a second lift. 


The Old Barn

Nordic Valley’s anchor and iconic ski lodge is affectionately called ‘The Old Barn’, a relic of the original Silver Bell Ranch. The beloved symbol of Ogden Valley’s pastoral culture faithfully served as a hay barn for many years before hosting countless families, warm meals and crackling fires. The Old Barn is still in operation today and houses Nordic Valley’s rental shop, ticket office and restaurant. 



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Eventually, the main lift towers were equipped with lights and Nordic Valley became one of the first ski areas in Northern Utah to provide eager locals and school children with access to night skiing. Popular amongst locals was the Tuesday ‘Ladies Night’ where women skied free or half price. The convenience of skiing in the dark winter evenings brought many locals the opportunity to learn the sport.


Nordic Valley Today

Between the late 70s and 2014, Nordic Valley changed hands a number of times, resulting in a name change to Wolf Mountain and a switch back to Nordic Valley again when Wolf Mountain Ski Resort LLC declared bankruptcy in 2010. Today, the resort is owned by Skyline Mountain Base which entered into an operating agreement with Mountain Capital Partners in 2018 to manage and operate the resort. Mountain Capital Partners owns and manages a collection of boutique resorts in the American Southwest, including Brian Head Ski Resort in Southern Utah. 

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New lift terminal under construction in autumn of 2020

In an exciting development for the 2020–21 season, Nordic Valley will add its first new chairlift in 20 years. The new lift, constructed by Leitner Poma, is over 4,000 feet in length and features a 6-person chair. The 4.2-minute ride will whisk Nordic Valley guests up 1,400 feet in elevation and it will be the ski area’s first high-speed chairlift. While a few new trails will debut for the 20/21 season, the eventual expansion will include access to an additional 300 acres of terrain in future seasons.



NORDIC VALLEY QUICK FACTS & ZANY LEGENDS

  • The new chairlift at Nordic Valley is the first major capital improvement in 20 years and it will eventually access 300 acres of new terrain, more than doubling the skiable acreage of Nordic Valley.

  • Portions of the action-packed thriller film, Frozen, were filmed at both Nordic Valley and Snowbasin. The flick premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and the chair featured in the movie posters is Nordic Valley's Apollo Lift.

  • Clark Eckersley was a beloved and colorful character who worked with the ski school management team at Nordic Valley. He grew up in Ogden in a family devoted to skiing with parents who had originally helped to get the first tow rope up and running in Wheeler Basin at neighboring Snowbasin Resort -- read more here. Clark skied classic "straight skis" in perfect style, knees clamped together, graceful as could be. He'd yell at kids bombing down the mountain "Make turns! Make turns!" His signature move was a "tip roll" on his skis which is why one of the steeper runs on the mountain was once called "Eckers Roll."

  • In the 70s, a gentleman named Bob Salerno—aka "Bad Bob"—conceived of a plan to dig a pond at the base of the main lift to be used as a practice jump. Bob's motto was "More air, more money" and he is considered to be one of the founding fathers of Freestyle Skiing, winning three of five combined titles to earn the Grand Prix Championship title in his breakout season in 1974.  In the late 1970s, liability concerns shut down aerial competitions and the professional freestyle tour and inverts were banned. This is when Bad Bob spearheaded the construction of the world's largest water ramp for athletes to practice at Nordic Valley. At the time, Bob was a part-owner and the Director of Skiing at the resort. His wild ideas were innovative and helped to push the progression of Freestyle Skiing. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2015.


Photos
Photos generously provided by Nordic Valley


References 



Brown, C.J. (personal communication, Nov/Dec 2020) discussed the history and founding of Nordic Valley Resort

Mariani, G. (personal email communication, Jan 2021) discussed stories and history of Nordic Valley Resort

Nordic Valley. (no date). About. Retrieved from https://www.nordicvalley.ski/about/

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. (no date). Bob Salerno, Hall of Fame class of 2015. Retrieved from https://skihall.com/hall-of-famers/bob-salerno/

Wikipedia. (no date). Nordic Valley, Utah. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_Valley,_Utah


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