By now you’ve probably heard about the passing of one skiing’s greatest contributors, Stein Eriksen. However, rather than mourning this sad occasion we want to take a moment and celebrate his life and the contributions he made to the world of skiing.

As one of the most recognized names in the ski world, Stein Eriksen was synonymous with skiing style and elegance for more than 60 years. The first alpine skier to win triple gold at a world championship, an Olympic gold medalist and ambassador and father of freestyle skiing, Eriksen parlayed all that he knew and loved about the sport into an incredible career that spanned almost six decades and changed the face of alpine skiing worldwide.

Born in 1927, Eriksen originally gained fame by winning a silver and gold medal in the slalom and giant slalom events, respectively, at the 1952 Oslo Olympic Winter Games. Two years later he went on to become the first triple gold winner at the World Championships in Åre, Sweden. It was during this time that he developed the forward somersault an aerial maneuver credited as the forerunner of the inverted aerials performed by freestyle skiers today.

During his life, Eriksen was the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Among others, he was named an Olympic Ambassador, as well as receiving the Pioneer Award from the Intermountain Ski Areas Association, a Royal Oder of Merit and Knight First Class by His Majesty the King of Norway for outstanding service in the interest of Norway.

Though he is gone, he will be fondly remembered by the countless skiers to whom he taught the sport of skiing.