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Stein's Place

Stein's Place

Mountain Life
By Fred R. Smith
posted: 01/15/2002

No, this is not the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley, for all its mighty timbers and impressive façade. It is Stein's private hideaway, sequestered on a cul-de-sac with only a spring-fed pond and the fairway of a golf course between it and Park City's Olympic ski runs.

This, the second house that Stein and Françoise Eriksen have built on this land, is full of surprises. Even boasting 6,000 square feet and a 37-foot-high beamed ceiling, the home has a simple plan. The main level (the second floor) flows as one open space-with a cozy, fire-lit media room on one side and a master bed-and-bath suite on the other. It's an alpine-nest-for-two away from the crowd-or a space to entertain a throng. Guests and visiting family-college-age son Bjorn, and children and grandchildren from previous marriages-are housed on the ground floor in three apartments.

Françoise is French, born in Normandy. "Don't forget that the Norse conquered Normandy in the 10th century," Stein says as he comments on his wife's Norwegian dress. He had the dress made for her in his native village of Telemark. With its ornate embroidery, it took a year to complete.

When you come to visit the Eriksens, Stein meets you at the door in his stocking feet and takes you up the wrought-iron-railed flight of stairs to their living quarters. After all, he has spent about half of the past 50 years in ski boots and the floors throughout are radiant-heated. The wide planks of heart-pine, now glowing and polished after a century of use, were found in an old Pullman car factory in Illinois. The Vikings, Stein's ancestral race, built prolifically with the abundant wood that covered Norway. And though the exterior walls are stucco white, the building's bones are majestically wood.

Françoise owned an antique shop in Santa Monica, Calif., before she married Stein 21 years ago. Old French pieces she has collected combine with those from Stein's Norwegian trove to enliven every space and corner in the house. In the past 48 years, Stein has lived all over the U.S., directing ski schools from Michigan to California, Vermont to Colorado. He has been the director of skiing at Deer Valley since the resort opened in 1981. And, at last, he has built the house he always wanted to build: a home that combines the grandeur of the American West with the charm of the Norwegian countryside.

After the Eriksens designed their house, local contractors shied away from the engineering challenge. So Stein imported Jim Singleton and a can-do team of 12 from Ennis, Mont., where they had built his summer lodge in Big Sky country. The 60-foot beams supporting the roof are steel, but wrapped in hand-hewn Douglas fir, with iron straps binding the two materials together.

Meanwhile, Françoise scoured local antique shops and found, in Salt Lake City, stained-glass windows from a l9th-century English manor. One, now above the grand piano, depicts a Viking ship in its coat-of-arms medallion. The window's arched shape dictated the shape of windows under the eaves all around the house.

Another stained-glass panel, now glowing above the hot tub in the master bath, bears the initials "S.E." in a monogram in one corner. "They were obviously destined to be in this house," Françoise says.

To match the scale of the rooms, Françoise commissioned a Salt Lake City craftsman, Ty Loyola, to make oversized furnishings with the feel of Norway. The large intricately carved armoire in the media room, concealing the music system, VCR and a mammoth television screen, is painted and glazed in the reds, browns and blues that are typical of Norwegian country furniture. It is the grandest of Loyola's pieces. He also crafted the bar chairs, the dining chairs, the mantel above the dining-room fireplace and an armoire concealing the refrigerator.

Local stone masons erected the almost walk-in fireplaces from Utah river rock. The hearth in the living room opens to the media room on itts far side. The dining table, long enough to seat 10 in armorial chairs, will be there as long as the house stands, Stein says. "It is made of concrete with a faux-wood pattern and acrylic finish, anchored in place, a permanent part of the structure." The heart of the house is the bar and open kitchen, where all guests gather and Stein holds court, grinding coffee beans or serving schnapps. The big white six-burner stove is, of course, a Viking.

Most of Stein's collection of trophies gleam in vitrines up the hill at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. But at the top of the stairway at home, there is a more intimate wall. Along with the Norwegian flag, there are photographs of his parents, his brother Marius-an RAF Spitfire ace in World War II-of the young Bogner family and of Stein when the King of Norway knighted him in l997. With them are his father's skis and the skis on which Stein won his Olympic gold and silver medals at Oslo in l952, exactly 50 years before February's 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

With Deer Valley hosting the Olympic slalom and freestyle competitions, Stein will be in the middle of the endless international party. So during quieter moments of the Games, he, undoubtedly, will retreat from the Olympic crowds to his alpine home-perhaps the ultimate mountain hideaway.

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