Earl Holding, Sun Valley Owner

Passing Date: 
Friday, April 19, 2013

Earl Holding died in April, 2013 at age 86. 

Holding earned the accolades of winter sports enthusiasts by restoring Sun Valley, the historic Idaho ski resort, to its original quality and pre-eminence and by transforming Snowbasin from a sleepy local day area to the Utah ski resort that hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games downhill events.

Holding was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he learned the value of a day’s labor, working several jobs during the Depression. Upon graduation from the University of Utah in 1952 with an engineering degree, he was offered the opportunity to manage Covey’s Little America service station and motel on the western prairie of Wyoming. Within two years of taking over the property, Holding and his wife, Carol, transformed it into the highest volume service station in the country. The family went on to build additional Little America properties in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Flagstaff, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1976, Holding’s hard work with Little America put him in a position to buy Sinclair Oil.

In 1977, Holding purchased the iconic ski resort of Sun Valley. The beautiful one-of-a-kind year-round resort was in need of the attention to detail and excellence that were Holding’s trademarks. He began with a beautification project of planting thousands of trees, then added one of the world’s largest snowmaking systems. Five new high speed detachable quad lifts were built on the mountain as were several stunning new day lodges and restaurants. Holding’s love of the western outdoors marks many of his endeavors; he personally oversaw the design of the new lodges including maximizing their breathtaking mountain views. The new Sun Valley Nordic Center hosted the International Special Olympics in 2009.

Holding became involved in northern Utah’s Snowbasin in the early 1980s when it was a small day area. He was able to build new lifts, lodges and restaurants at Snowbasin in time to host the 2002 Men’s and Women’s Downhill and Super G Olympic events.


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