Trib­ute to Hon­our Jon En­gen

Nordic Ski­ing Loses a True Cham­pion of the Sport

SkiTrax - - Out In Front - by Jim Fred­er­icks

On April 26, Jon En­gen passed away peace­fully af­ter an ex­traor­di­nar­ily coura­geous bat­tle with pan­cre­atic can­cer. Through­out the fight, he never gave up hope or his spirit.

En­gen was born in Nor­way and came to Boze­man, Mont., where he set­tled af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Mon­tana State Univer­sity with a de­gree in en­gi­neer­ing in 1983. Hav­ing a strong back­ground in Nordic ski­ing and a true love of the out­doors, Boze­man be­came a per­fect set­ting to pur­sue his in­ter­ests and a ca­reer in en­gi­neer­ing.

In Win­ter 1988, En­gen went to the U.S. Olympic try­outs in biathlon, and when he nar­rowly missed mak­ing the team, he turned his ef­forts to cross-coun­try and suc­ceeded in be­ing named to the 1988 U.S. Olympic cross-coun­try team. He went on to make two more Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996 as a biath­lete. En­gen was a fierce com­peti­tor and well known on the ski cir­cuit, whether it was biathlon, marathon ski­ing or the U.S. cross-coun­try Na­tional cir­cuit.

In his later years, he com­peted as a Masters racer and achieved World Masters cham­pion sta­tus mul­ti­ple times in his age group. As a com­peti­tor, En­gen was well­liked on the ski cir­cuit, but also feared by his com­peti­tors. How­ever, his hum­ble de­meanour out­side of com­pe­ti­tion at­trib­uted to his pop­u­lar­ity off the ski course.

Af­ter his Olympic years, En­gen moved to Sun Val­ley, where he mar­ried Dar­lene Young. Both En­gen and Young com­peted on the marathon cir­cuit with Team Ros­sig­nol for many years. Dur­ing this time pe­riod, En­gen cre­ated his own coach­ing group in the Sun Val­ley area. He coached rac­ers of all lev­els, but par­tic­u­larly en­joyed work­ing with Masters skiers. Be­ing an en­gi­neer, En­gen had a very an­a­lyt­i­cal mind, which con­trib­uted to his suc­cess as a coach. While ski­ing for Team Ros­sig­nol, his team­mates of­ten looked up to En­gen for his ex­per­tise in train­ing and tech­nique. Many of those rac­ers still credit En­gen’s coach­ing as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in their suc­cess.

Ski rac­ing was not En­gen’s only pas­sion. Dur­ing the sum­mer months, he would take to road cy­cling and com­pete with much suc­cess in statewide and na­tional time­trial com­pe­ti­tion. He de­vel­oped many friends in the cy­cling world, and was well re­spected for his rid­ing strengths and tech­ni­cal knowl­edge.

En­gen made time to give back to the sport of Nordic ski­ing af­ter his most com­pet­i­tive years. He served as U.S. Ski and Snow­board’s Cross Coun­try Sport Com­mit­tee chair from 2006 to 2014, and was in­volved in al­most ev­ery as­pect of the sport. As an ath­lete, coach and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive, En­gen was re­garded as one of the com­mit­tee’s most im­pact­ful lead­ers. He was in­ducted into the Sun Val­ley Hall of Fame in 2014, and was hon­oured this year at the U.S. Ski and Snow­board Chair­man’s Awards din­ner with the Al Mer­rill Award for his ser­vice to Nordic ski­ing in Amer­ica.

En­gen touched many peo­ple over the years, and will surely be missed as a force in the Nordic sports.

Leg­endary Amer­i­can ski leg­end and for­mer Olympian, Jon Rein En­gen

Jon En­gen at the 1992 Biathlon Worlds in Al­bertville, France

Dar­lene Young and Jon En­gen

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