Hughes: Despite fire, other setbacks, Nordic Valley Resort carries on a rich history

Jan 24, 2024, 4:02 PM | Updated: 8:48 pm

FILE: Nordic Valley is the training grounds for several world class alpine skiers. Because of the s...

FILE: Nordic Valley is the training grounds for several world class alpine skiers. Because of the setup, skiers can get off the chairlift halfway up the mountain and can get in more runs throughout the day, increasing their actual practice time. (Gary Nate)

(Gary Nate)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

EDEN, Utah — Nordic Valley Ski Resort lists itself as “one of the most accessible, family-centered, and budget-friendly ski areas in the country.” And who’s to argue — with lift passes priced at $67 even on its busiest days, and, as little as $23 on a quiet weekday?

However, the resort has experienced a few recent setbacks.

General Manager Pascal Begin told KSL Outdoors Radio that in late March last year, the gearbox on the Apollo lift stopped working. That required management to use some creative ways of getting skiers up the mountain where they could access another lift.

Then in early January of this year, a fire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. in the lodge. The fire damaged the ticket office, restaurant, and business offices. It also forced the resort to close for a brief time.

nordic valley fire

Fire damage to the “barn” at Nordic Valley Ski Resort in Eden on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

The good news? Nordic announced on their website this week that they are back open for business, although Pascal told KSL NewsRadio it will be some time before the lodge can be rebuilt.  

Overcoming obstacles is nothing new to Nordic Valley. The 900-acre plot of land once known as Silver Bell Ranch has been a part of the Wasatch Mountains since 1968. 

So, rather than sticking to the resort’s recent problems, Nordic’s forgotten history became the focus of my conversation with Pascal. That’s partly because of my family’s connection with the resort.

Nordic Valley’s rich history

If you’ve listened to KSL Outdoors Radio over the years you’ve heard me talk about my wife Becki’s family. Her twin brother is connected to the sport of skiing and the birth of freestyle, or, as it was known in the ’70s,“Hot Dog” skiing.

The Salernos were famous in northern Utah for their skiing prowess. Their abilities were sparked by their uncle, Ted Salerno, who once served as the general manager for Nordic Valley.

He was not only responsible for instilling a love of skiing in my brother-in-law, “Bad Bob” Salerno but many of his friends and family members too.

Weber County recently approved the addition of a ski village at Nordic Valley Ski Resort. Built on 500 acres surrounding the ski resort, the village is expected to increase tourism for the county. 

FILE: Skyline Mountain Base and the Nordic Valley Land Associates say that they are hoping to get this project started soon. Zoning and getting the infrastructure ready is the first move. (Nordic Valley Twitter feed)

Bob’s accomplishments are now enshrined in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame as a multi-time World Freestyle Champion. He was once listed by Sports Illustrated as one of the founders of the sport and was the digital model for a James Bond video game you may have played once upon a time.

Uncle Ted put his fingerprints throughout Nordic Valley helping to build a new lift, renovating that same lodge and even building the first skatepark in the west.

Snow and earth still bury that skatepark beneath one of the resort’s runs, Pascal reminded me. But the game changer for the “Hot Doggers” of Utah was the idea to utilize trampolines and build a training pond where skiers would learn to throw new tricks. If they misfired the skiers could land, albeit awkwardly, without significant injury.

That pushed the limits on what was possible on two skis. And it became the precursor to the jumping pool at the Utah Winter Sports Park.

FILE: Athletes compete at the 2023 U.S. Freestyle Ultimate Airwave Competition at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

Ogden skiers who made their mark on skiing, Utah, and the nation

Many Ogden skiers besides Bob joined in on the fun and went on to make their marks — not just on freestyle but skiing in general.

They include people like Paul Nicholas, who passed away recently. He wrote the manuals used to judge freestyle skiing since it became an Olympic sport. 

Frankie Bare was throwing triple-quadruple flips on skis in the early 80s. And you may have seen Bare doing those jumps on trampolines during Utah Jazz halftime performances.

Bare would later become the Executive Director of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation.

Doug Coleman became a leading stunt coordinator in Hollywood. Jeff Chumas was a two-time World Cup Aerial Champion and was a stunt professional in many movies.

Nordic Valley started as a small community resort in the late ’60s. But became a launching pad for more than just a group of kids from northern Utah. It sent an entire sport onto the national and international stage. 

Their innovations back then even attracted the attention of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and Rolling Stone Magazine. Both outlets came to see what everyone was talking about —  and what would set the Freestyle Skiing standard for decades to come.

Tim Hughes is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and the host of KSL Outdoors on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Hughes: Despite fire, other setbacks, Nordic Valley Resort carries on a rich history