Have you ever been to a ski jumping event?
Until today, my answer would’ve been “no.” But today I had the pleasure of attending the Harris Hill Ski Jump Meet, an annual occurance in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Harris Hill Ski Jump is the only 90-meter ski jump in New England and the newest Olympic size jump in the country. The Hill’s been in nearly continuous operation since 1923. Only an occasional snow drought, World War II, and a three-year hiatus to re-build the jump (2006 – 2008) have interrupted the annual tradition. It’s been the site of 18 national and regional championships, most recently in 1992 when Brattleboro hosted the National Championships.
Here’s how you know you’re in Vermont:
The skis the jumpers use are incredibly long and wide, with free heel bindings that allow them to lean forward as they soar off the ramp.
It’s breathtaking to watch.
There were jumpers from all over the place: Steamboat, CO; Park City, UT; Lake Placid, NY. Even a few Europeans.
Although most were men, a few — six, I think — were young women, competing in the Ladies category. Which reminded me that ski jumping is the only event in the Summer and Winter Games in which the IOC doesn’t allow women to compete.
I’ve written about this a few times in this blog, most recently here and here. I won’t go into it all again now — suffice it to say that the IOC backs up its decision with a variety of crackpot reasons, ranging from “ski jumping is bad for women’s bodies from a medical point of view,” to “women’s ski jumping lacks universality.” But even today at Harris Hill, it was easy to see that these young women are tremendously talented athletes, and excluding them from the games is beyond belief.
That said, if you have the chance to attend a ski jumping event, by all means, go. Watching people soar off a ramp with huge boards strapped to their feet is an amazing spectacle. And Harris Hill is a great place to do it.
Ski jumping for women is great! I’ve been jumping for Norge (Norge is the oldest club in the US, located in Fox River Grove, Il) for 7 months. I just took 2nd in the women’s open 25 meter. I’m 44 years old and my son (12)also jumps. I belong to the organization, “SheJumps”–and have had a few emails from Lindsey Van encouraging me to keep jumping. I’m an avid skier and since I was small and I love super challenging runs. When I started jumping I had no idea that I would be this good and have to say it’s pure joy. It’s very, very mental and difficult in a whole new way. You have to push past the fear to the joy! Thanks so much for promoting it on your blog and I look forward to reading SkiDiva.
Ruth, you’re an inspiration. I love to watch ski jumping, I daresay I’d be too scared to try it. Congrats on taking 2nd place, too! Fantastic!
BTW, wasn’t the Norge club at Harris Hill today?
I think some of the Norge jumpers were there. Head Coach S. Immens, his 2 daughters and myself were at Norge this weekend. There was a Norwegian documentary film crew there filming a Norwegian series called, “Forgotton Heros” — Apparently, this Norwegian woman, Johanna Kalsted jumped in the 1930s but Norway wouldn’t let her jump. Norge was the first club to invite her to jump (1933)–so they were filming the girls getting ready etc. It was the 2 coaches daughters and me getting filmed off the 25 meter. The snow is all but gone on all the hills. Some crappy stuff remained on the landing hill. So the in run was metal tracks to the crappy landing hill snow. We were the only ones that would jump! It went really well and we are really looking forward to seeing the film (who knows how long it will take though!)! So yeah, I think there was some of Norge there…was it the JO qualifier or JO? This weekend was so busy I don’t even know who went…
and yes, the skis are long! freakishly long!!!