Seaman, Instructor, Industry Rep

Passing Date: 
Thursday, April 21, 2022

Jan Erling Gulliksen, a 60-year veteran of the U.S. ski industry, died April 21, 2022, in Montrose, Colorado. He was 88 years old.

Gulliksen grew up in Norway and was six years old when the German army invaded his country. In 1949, at age 15, he went to sea, first on a whaling ship bound for Antarctica, then on freighters that took him around Africa and to Cuba and the southeastern ports of the United States. In 1951, at age 17, he jumped ship in New York and hitchhiked to Colorado. In Boulder, Gulliksen held a series of odd jobs,but was arrested and charged as an illegal immigrant. He chose enlistment in the Air Force as a way to earn citizenship. The story is told in the 2009 books A Boy from Nøtterøy and At the Helm: The Adventures of a Young Merchant Marine, both by Anne Gulliksen.

The Air Force sent Gulliksen to Norway. Later, a retiring general had him transferred to Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his duties included teaching VIPs to ski at Sandia Peak. After a four-year hitch, he stayed in New Mexico, eventually teaching at Taos for Ernie Blake.

When Vail opened in 1962, Gulliksen was on hand, teaching for Roger Staub’s ski school. He became the Rocky Mountain regional sales rep for Nordica, Look, Völkl and for Beconta’s skiwear lines, and later repped for Hart skis and Thorlo socks, among other brands. He was one of a rowdy bunch of reps who pioneered the party scene in Las Vegas when SIA moved its trade show there in 1972.

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