In the 1930s and 1940s international recognition came to Utah through tournaments at Ecker Hill, the ski jumpers who awed the crowds, and their record flights through the mountain air. Although competitive ski jumping in Utah predates the large jump on Rasmussen ranch in Parley's Park, it was in 1930 that the efforts of Peter Ecker and Martinius "Mark" Strand began to shape ski jumping in Utah. Avid skiers, Ecker and Strand followed ski events in the mid-west, the east, and in Europe and wanted to bring professional jumping to Utah.
Their ski-tournament-sponsoring Utah Ski Club grew out of the Norwegian-American Athletic Club. Strand, a promoter, and Ecker obtained sanction by the American Ski Association for professional jumping on the relocated jump at Rasmussen ranch, a necessary step for national and international standing. Then they encouraged the international professionals, many of whom were Scandinavian, to come to the new hill.
On March 2, 1930, Utah Governor George Dern opened the State Tournament with praise for Utah Ski Club and named the hill for the president of the club, Peter Ecker. Alf Engen, a 20 year old Norwegian who had been in the U.S. less than a year, was among the 14 professionals slated to compete. Engen did not place well (he fell), but his 164 foot jump was by far the longest that day.
Engen went on to set many records, both at Ecker Hill and elsewhere, while crowds watching at Ecker Hill grew from 2,000, to 5,000, to 7,000, to over 8,000. Through the continuing efforts of Strand, Ecker, and later S. Joseph Quinny, Ecker Hill became the site of national tournaments from 1930 to 1949, and was on the international ski tour.
The ski rider in the photo is Ralph Bistila of Ishpeming, Michigan, at a national competition held at Ecker Hill, probably in 1949. Amidst growing public interest in participatory alpine skiing, promoters briefly attempted to revive jumping at Ecker Hill in the 1960s. After that, the historic jump site located within Pinebrook Estates fell into disrepair.
The Pinebrook Homeowners Association, the Summit County Historical Society, and the Park City Historical Society have joined forces to refurbish the 1986 monument at Pinebrook. Contact the Park City Historical Society, 435-649-7457, regarding contributions and replica plaques.
By Bea Mays Located 0.5 miles from entrance to Pinebrook and Kilby Roads. View a map of the area.