USASJ Story Project 31-Dec-13 USASJ THANK YOU


There is no “I” in TEAM.  We are coming together.  We are sharing the load.  Above, Mike Glasder (L) and Peter Frenette (R) hoist Olympic Trials winner Nick Fairall after Sunday’s event in Park City.

USA SKI JUMPING
Age 4
Park City, Utah
info@usaskijumping.org
 
A lot has happened in 4 years.  We have come together at the top and we are coming together at the grass roots. These have been humble and sometimes tottering first steps, and it is far too early to deem anything a “success” but it has certainly been progress.  A momentum has been created.  And it has come of tapping into that little piece of each of us that was- in one way or another- defined, nurtured or created by being a ski jumper.
 
When you start from virtually nothing you are forced to rely on the generosity of others.  In the last four years we have witnessed many generous acts- too many to name here… and the exciting thing is that they seem to be contagious.

Thank you for your generosity.  We are better together and the best is yet to come.

This concludes Story Project for 2013.  If you want to see stories from the last two years they are all archived at http://usasjstoryproject.blogspot.com/.

If you appreciate these stories or what USASJ is trying to do with ski jumping in the US, please donate at http://www.active.com/donate/USASJFUNDRAISE.  Please be thinking of stories for next year’s series!
 


















Things are looking up.  Assistant coach Bine Norcic doing a fly-by during a team photo.

USASJ Story Project 30-Dec-13 DAVE NORBY


Haakon VII IPA, known as Prince Carl of Denmark until 1905, was the first king of Norway after the 1905 dissolution of the personal union with Sweden.  He also liked playing cards.


DAVE NORBY
Age 71
Blackhawk Ski Club
Madison, WI
mc3@chorus.net

In the early 1960’s I was ski-jumping in Rockford, Illinois.  The father of a local jumper had a very distinct Norwegian accent so I struck up a conversation with him.  Sorry, I don’t recall his name.  He said during WWII he was in the palace guard, probably a very trusted position considering.  The war was recently over and it was completely calm.  The high tension of the war years had vanished and it was such a relief.  Peace at last.
 
One night he and two others were to be guarding at one of the corners of the palace grounds.  They decided that rather than stand outside another night in the quiet they would sit inside their little guard house room and play cards by the one small light bulb in the ceiling.  Who would ever know.  Around midnight suddenly, all alone in walks King Haakon VII.  They were petrified.  Certainly it would be the end of their careers, disciplinary action, family shame, etc.  It was all over.  The king’s searing gaze looked around the little room, he leaned forward, put his hands on the table, stared each one in the eyes, looked at the few coins and cards on the table.  His glare turned into a broad smile and he said, “How much does it cost to get in this game?”  The four of them played cards and laughed until sun up.
 
Much has been said in this USASJ Story Project about the people and bonds we have made.  When one looks back at the competitions, the prizes, etc. they are but a moment in time.  But what lasts are the people we have come to know and their stories.  They will be with us forever.

USASJ Story Project 29-Dec-13 JEFF HASTINGS


Norwegian Hroar Stjernen gave a lesson in ski jumping etiquette in 1982.  He went on to coach the Norwegian National Team and is now managing director of Rosenborg SK, the professional soccer team in Trondheim.

JEFF HASTINGS
Age 54
Ford Sayre Ski Club
Hanover, NH
jhastings@procutusa.com

Sapporo, Japan is an interesting place to jump.  A city of 2MM with vast underground malls.  The winds are especially finicky there shifting from hard tail to hard head in the blink of an eye.  It is widely believed that ’72 Olympic large hill gold medalist Wojciech Fortuna (POL) was by no means the most talented jumper that day, just the most fortunate.
 
In 1982 World Cup event on the normal hill I found myself about to slide out onto the bar when the jumper behind me, a Norwegian named Hroar Stjernen, told me to “fix your binding.”  I was pretty sure my bindings were fine, but I stopped and reached down check my front throws and cables and, finding both in place, looked back to him to see what he was talking about.  “Stay down,” he said.  “Make some adjustments.  I’ll let you know when the air comes around again.”  I looked down the in-run to see, sure enough, the huge airplane anemometer was showing a howling tail wind.  If I’d slid out onto the bar I’d have had a 30 second window in which to jump- likely into a vacuum.  But Hroar had saved me.  It was both amazing and not at all surprising.  For that is what ski jumping is all about.
 
Eventually the wind shifted- “you’re OK now,” Hroar told me.  I patted my bindings like everything had just been re-set and slid out and took my jump.   And made sure of two things- first, that I thanked Hroar, and second, that I looked out for the guy in front of me for the rest of my career.

USASJ Story Project 28-Dec-13 BOB AVERILL


Dressed for success.

BOB AVERILL
Age  70
Retired USSA Jumping judge and Technical Delegate
SSWSC, Kandahar Ski Club , Grand County Racing Club
hotel6@aol.com
 
Air Force Cadets at Winter Park
 
In 1959 the Air Force Academy was just getting involved with competitive skiing at the college level. All of the cadets on their ski team were new to ski jumping and they lacked a coach with a jumping background. Never the less, their enthusiasm for the sport was a hoot to watch. They had some strange behaviors as a result of their Plebe status and lack of knowledge I recall this Air Force Captain in uniform sandwiched between Bob Beattie and Willy Scheffler in the judges tower. I’m sure he was learning what the sport was all about! Willy and Bob, I am sure, were trying to put some common sense into this Captain’s head. While “normal” ski jumpers would just give a shout out to their coach indicating they were ready to jump the Air Force had a twist.
 
It went like this. The cadet would stand at attention, turn smartly to face the judges tower and shout out “ Cadet Smith requests permission to fly the 50 hill, Sir” The Captain in the tower would reply if it was clear “Cadet Smith, permission is granted to fly the 50” . I always remember the grins on the faces of those in the tower not associated with the Air Force. Of course, those of us waiting for our turn to jump carried on in a fashion that created humor among those not at the Academy. I think the following year they got away from that drill.
 
1960 brought new adventures for the Academy. Snow was sleight in Nov so the colleges and high schools on the east slope of Colorado had a lot of work to do to get the 50 in shape. Ansten Samuelston pretty much lead the charge to put a new table of straw bales on top of the old takeoff. This resulted in the takeoff being pulled back about 5 or 6 feet and a better transition in the R1. I think we added a lot of straw in the R2 to give it a flatter curve. After several weekends of work and hauling lots of snow we were ready to go the next weekend. Final hill prep was completed and a draw was made to see who would set the track. An Air Force Academy cadet won the honor.
 
The new end run modification was half the width of the old table below it and was probably 3 bales high at the take off. It possibly made the track setter a bit nervous. Given the all clear, the Cadet started down the end run with a good line (I was next to go, so had a good view). As he entered the R1 he became wobbly and caught an edge resulting in a nosedive on his part. This resulted in about 10 foot of the end run being wiped out and the cadet and his newly found straw bale buddies were in a pile on the
By the time all of us got our skis off and walked down to the knoll, we had heard an ear full form Sam as well as the other coaches in the stand. The Air Force was requested to leave the jump ( I cleaned that up). We spent the rest of the day repairing the take-off.
 
Jumping commenced the next day without the Air Force.
 
I suppose the Air Force got back into good graces with the other colleges after a few weeks. I was still in High School so didn’t track with their challenges.

USASJ Story Project 27-Dec-13 GEORGIA JONES


Georgia and son Jeff Volmrich in Lake Placid in the 80’s.  Remember Vuarnets?

GEORGIA JONES
Lake Placid Ski Club
Lake Placid, NY
georgia11@roadrunner.com
 
I’ve never been off a ski jump but I have seen thousands of jumps.  I’ve seen them as a spectator, from the coach’s platform, the judge’s tower, as a marker, at the start and the takeoff, on video, and at awards banquets.  All of them are part of the collective memories that I have of a very special part of my life.  As with so many things in our experience there was no inkling of the immense pleasure or the occasional heartbreak that my involvement in ski jumping was to be. 
 
It started when son, Jeff Volmrich, at the age of 10 decided to try ski jumping.  It fit as he had always found ways to launch himself off hay bales and bumps while alpine skiing.  That was the beginning of rock picking, ice crushing, foot packing, stair climbing, equipment gathering, fund raising.  There were 5:30 AM waits in the high school parking lot waiting for the ride to arrive for the trip to Bear Mountain, Gilford, Gunstock or wherever.  It was also a time of late night worry wondering if the trip home would make it because of a storm somewhere.
 
Those were the days on the 20m, the 40m and on to the larger hills.  People used to ask me if I was afraid to watch Jeff jumping but it never occurred to me.  Oh, there were moments when I gasped but not too many.  Chuck Berghorn, Franny Kane, and Matt Bimonte, had prepared the hill under the watchful eyes of Sig Evenson and Ed Brisson.  The coaches, Rex Bell, Larry Stone, Erling, or someone equally well qualified  had given the go ahead,  the starter let the wand go and it was all downhill.  Jay Rand brought it all together: always watching, moving up or down the hill and generally making sure it all ran smoothly.  Of course, Earl Murphy had calibrated the wind direction, velocity and who knows what else.  What, me worry?
 
As the years went by and Jeff moved up the ladder through the eastern ski jumping program to the development team and on to the US team I became even more involved in the sport.  Those trips to Brattleboro to the Eastern Ski Jump Committee meetings were really something.  Packed in a very small car with Jay, Don West, Joe Lamb, and some others, I listened to ski Jump stories about almost any meet or hill in the world.  More than I really ever wanted to hear but it made the one day round trip go by with some entertainment. 
 
I was fortunate to be way too old to ski jump and too young to have been part of the sport forever but it sure was fun.  The people and the jumpers are ultimately what it’s all about so hanging out with Earl, Vern and Winnie, Sig and Birgit, Al Merrill, a host of Dennys, Hastings and Hollands, Farnhams, and so many other officials and parents was a wonderful experience.  What made it all worth the effort of course were the boys, young men, and the masters for whom all the effort was made. 
 
As I read the stories that the jumpers have posted I too have many good memories.  I said there were a few heartbreaks and one was the day I was in the judge’s tower watching the distances and style points coming up and my heart sank.  The room got very quiet and no one looked at me.  It was the day for final selection for the Calgary Olympics and Jeff’s good friend, Chris Hastings had just edged him out of a place by about 1/10 of a point.  Not the best day.  Jeff took it better than I.
  
So far everyone who has contributed to this hasn’t dwelt much on a specific competition, trip or score but on the friendships and bonds that have enriched their lives long after the days on the hills are over.  My recollections are about the same.  I even got to watch Art Devlin jump on crushed ice at a July 4th meet.  Having the whole Norwegian ski here for dinner, waking up to find Ed Person sleeping on my back porch, Landis on a day bed upstairs, or Chris Hastings in a heap of blankets on Jeff’s bedroom floor, or registering jumpers for meets who had forgotten their USSA membership cards, Jay and I running around town at midnight trying to find hangers for the Japanese FIS judges who were staying at a rundown hotel in town.  Now seeing Kris Severson and Matt Terwilliger in Park City, sitting with Chris and his wife at Molly Stone’s wedding this fall, with Bobby Sachs this summer in Lake Placid, hearing the stories of the midnight rides on shovels at the bob run. These and so much more are just small pieces of the pleasures of my time as a part of the ski jumping community and what a time it was.  In a few days I head to Park City and hope to see one of Jeff’s daughters fly at the Olympic Sports Park.  Full circle. Thanks.


Jeff Volmrich missed making the ’88 Olympic team by 0.1 pts (over 4 comps).  Shown here jumping the Lake Placid K48 on crushed ice in a 4th of July competition (late 70’s?).


Full circle- Georgia’s granddaughter, Jeff’s daughter, Taylor, jumping in Park City

USASJ Story Project 26-Dec-13 PATRICK KRUEGEL


Patrick Kruegel in his home country of Switzerland with his first pair of Fishers!

PATRICK KRUEGEL
Age: 46
Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Ski Club & St. Paul Ski Club
kruegelp@yahoo.com
 
Growing up in Bern, Switzerland, I have many memories of mostly fun moments. For the purpose of this amusing Story Project I will keep it to 3 short stories/experiences.
 
My home hill was in Kandersteg where they still have 3 hills (HS25m, HS60m & HS90m). Kandersteg was brand new at that time and the opportunity to have plastic was used by many National teams, including athletes of the US National Team, from the late 70’s throughout the 80’s. It was sometime in the summer of 1980, I was busy practicing on our HS25m when I saw a bus pulling in the parking lot. Out of this bus emerged the complete Finnish A Squad, including my idol Matti Nykänen. This was well before he became famous, other than winning many World Cups and Olympic medals, for not so flattering issues. It was just a great feeling to practice right next to some of the World’s Best athletes training on the HS90m and using the same chair lift. We also had lunch at the same restaurant and enjoyed watching them in the gym area at the jumps doing weights and dry land jumps. This happened on several occasions. Absolutely priceless!
 
Sometime in December in the early 80s, our club was heading for our annual Night Jumping Tournament to Vaulion (HS60m), which is the French Speaking part close to the border of France. I was really excited to jump at a Night tournament, since most jumping back then was done during the day. Having lights was considered a luxury. As I was sliding down for my 1st official competition jump, I was about half way down looking at the take-off; all of a sudden the lights went out. It was pitch dark. This hill is almost completely hidden in the woods so there was not much natural light. I tried to think to myself, just relax and go with your feelings. What I was really thinking is “Holy crap, hang on for dear life, that might turn out ugly!” It felt like you’re riding your bicycle in a tunnel without lights. Luckily, I somehow managed to land straight and skied down the landing hill, screaming all the way down. Needless to say, I prefer jumping in bright daylight!
 
Many smaller ski jumps in Switzerland are built within the natural contour of a hill or mountain. Wooden or metal towers/in runs are not common. Many are even built within the boundaries of a ski area and without any traditional counter slope or long out run to slow down your speed. Well, one of these untypical contraptions was a jump near La Chaux-de-Fonds. This town is near the French border as well and is considered the Epicenter of the Swiss Watch Manufacturing Industry. Anyway, this facility was unique in several ways that from the start gate you would not see the take-off, nor would you see the jumpers coming to a stop at the end of the out run. Let’s just say, there was no formal end to the out run. After the jump, you had to ski all the way down to the bottom of the mountain; your speed would increase in the process. And we are not talking of a small hill here; no this was a real mountain, skiing down through the woods. After your jump you shouldered your skis and had to hike back up, which often would take you more than 30 minutes. I was more terrified of what would happen after the take-off, since the jump definitely was not over until you have mastered a complete stand still on the bottom. The other strange situation was that skiers would have to strap on their skis and wait in line sideways along the in run, move up one by one until it was your turn to jump from your side position inside the track. Certainly, there was no bar start. This would look really funny because all the skiers would line up almost all the way down to the take-off, with mostly close to 70 skiers. Needless to say, training jumps were limited, because #1 you ran out to time and #2 you have gotten so tired from all the walking, that you just did not have much energy left to keep jumping. Other jumps located in the middle of a ski area allowed us to take the T-Bar back up. But as you know, the only problem with that was skiing down a ski area with jumping skis is not the easiest thing to do.
 
I want to take the opportunity to thank my dad for always supporting me and my mom for not being too scared, even after a few hard crashes.
 
The photo shows me proudly in my first real jumping suit.
 
“Heia or Have One!”

USASJ Story Project 25-Dec-13 REX BELL


Ron Bell, Buz Zanello, Rex Bell, Roy Emerling, Art Tokle, Carl Berger, Carl Emerling, Chris Start.
Picture take at the base of the Latchis landing hill at Christmas camp. About 1964


REX BELL
Age 62
Cape Elizabeth, ME
Glenwood Acres Jumping Club, UNH Ski Team, Lake Placid Ski Club, US Ski Team, Harris Hill Organizing Committee, USA Ski Jumping
 rexsbell1@me.com
 
I grew up in the 1950-60’s in the Boston Hills, about 25 miles south of Buffalo, NY.  Boston is in the snow belt and when Buffalo gets 1 foot of snow, Boston gets 3 to 4 feet.
 
When we were young, my brother Ron and I played outdoors every day after school. We lived on a hillside, which made for great winter sliding experiences.
 
Mom grew up during the great depression and she collected anything that had any useful life left to it.  When I was about 10 she scavenged a pair of 7’9’’ wooden skis with leather toe straps for bindings. (Which I still have.)
 
One day Ron and I gave the old skis a try on the side yard hill and while almost every run ended with a fall we built a jump – just to make things more fun and challenging.  Santa found out how much we enjoyed skiing so on Christmas morning that year we each got a pair of new skis.
 
Dad bought himself a pair of Army surplus skis and took us skiing several times a week to a local park that had a rope tow. Eventually we out grew the park and got season passes to Glenwood Acres, a ski area 15 minutes from home. Glenwood had a T-bar, 2 rope tows and a 10-meter and 30-meter ski jumps.  It wasn’t long before Ron and I were taking jumping lessons along with 4 or 5 other kids. 
 
To reward us for being so diligent with our lessons, that March Dad drove us 8 hours to Lake Placid to participate in the North American Junior Ski Jumping Championships.
 
When I got out of the car in Lake Placid and looked at the very imposing 30-meter tower i got weak in the knees. And when i saw 20-30 kids from Lake Placid dressed in their red Lake Placid Ski Club sweaters, and 20-30 kids from Brattleboro in blue BOC sweaters and another 20-30 kids from other Eastern ski jumping clubs – all wearing their team colors, I was intimidated. Everyone looked so “professional” and self-assured in their respective team sweaters. I felt like an outsider and like I didn’t belong, but Dad was very supportive and encouraging – as always – and it turned out to be a positive weekend.
 
It was also a positive experience for Dad and because he was a dreamer it got him thinking, “what if”.  When we got back home, he called Leo Turcotte, a local Buffalo contractor and former ski jumper from Berlin, NH and discussed the idea of starting a ski jumping club modeled after what he saw in Lake Placid. Leo was, and still is, a high-energy fast-talking Frenchman. He’s always itching to move and lives life like today might be his last day.  “I don’t buy green bananas or novels…and I only read short stories.”
 
That summer Leo hosted a pool party for the junior jumpers and their parents. Leo was a great host and everyone had a great time. I learned later that one of the reason the parents enjoyed themselves so much was because Leo served large quantities of whiskey sours and manhattans.  But the cocktails were part of the plan.  Get the parents a little looped and the stage was set for Dad to present the vision of a Glenwood Acres junior ski jumping club, and hopefully the parents would volunteer to help out in addition to pulling out their wallets. 
 
Everyone loved the idea.  Officers were elected, Leo was named head coach and tasks were assigned to the parents. It didn’t matter that Leo was the only one with any ski jumping experience; every parent agreed to take on a role or provide a function for the club.
 
That fall Dad supervised a fund raising campaign and each kid went door-to-door selling light bulbs. Dad knew that in order for the sales to be successful the kids and the parents needed to be motivated so a cool prize was to be given to the junior jumper who sold the most light bulbs. The carrot for the parents was the winner would be announced at a party hosted by Leo and it was understood that whisky sours and manhattans would be served.  
 
Over the fall the program began to take shape. Practices times were set, dates decided for home tournaments and road trips were planned. Newspaper articles appeared in the Buffalo Evening News about an exciting and unique opportunity for kids to learn how to ski jump. A logo was designed and evergreen colored custom-made team sweaters, hats and parkas were ordered for each kid.
 
It was like Christmas when we got our hats, sweaters and parkas. I was so excited I think I found an excuse to wear my sweater to school one day. I could hardly wait for the first road trip that winter which was to Brattleboro for the annual Helen Harris Junior Jumper Christmas training camp – a camp we would attend many times over the years.
 
My memory of arriving at the Latchis ski jump is just as vivid as my memory of when I arrived in Lake Placid.  But it was very different.  In Brattleboro I remember stepping out of the car and feeling very confident and self-assured. And as I walked around the hill I overheard people saying, “who are those guys in the green sweaters and where is Glenwood Acres?” It didn’t matter to me that no one knew who we were or where we were from. What mattered was we were recognized as a team and I belonged to something very cool – the Glenwood Acres Jumping Team.
 
Glenwood Acres was a very unlikely location for a ski jumping program. There was no tradition and we were 7.5-hours drive to the closest Eastern Amateur Ski Association event, but due to the vision, ambition and determination of a couple of men, we had a very active and engaged program. 
 
I have much to be thankful for in my life and I’m the person I am today, in large part, because of the opportunity I had to participate in the sport of ski jumping.  I’ve learned along the way, from the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had, that its ok to dream big, and that if you want something, don’t wait for it to come to you…go after it….“today!”. And always to pursue your dreams with passion and perseverance. 
 
But I do have one regret, and that is that I took the program that I had the privilege to participate in for granted and I don’t think I ever properly thanked the President and Head Coach of the Glenwood Acres Jumping Team for all that they did. So let this story be an acknowledgement and a tribute to Ken Bell and Leo Turcotte for their hard work, their steady guidance and the life changing experiences they provided to me and the other junior jumpers from Glenwood Acres.

USASJ Story Project 24-Dec-13 JAY RAND & CHUCK BERGHORN


Lake Placid Ski Club around 1960- the legendary coach John Viscome and his red-sweatered crew.  Life-long friends Chuck Berghorn and Jay Rand are in the middle row.
BACK Faker LaFountain, Phil Berghorn, Ricky Patnode, Bob Birk, Jim Speck, John Fagan, Chris Beattie, Bobby Peacock, Mark Hess.
MIDDLE Erik Hess, Jimmy Morgan, Chuck Berghorn, Corky Colby, Gary Grady, Rollie Torrance (peeking through), Jay Rand, Terry Dennin, Wes Stanton, Sandra Vitvitski.
FRONT John Viscome (coach), Mike Sweeny, Denny Jesmer, Joey Jesmer, Donny Colby, Tom Colby, Bud Colby (coach).


JAY RAND & CHUCK BERGHORN
Olympic Ski Jump Venue Manager & Assistant Manager in the 1980’s and 1990’s
Lake Placid, NY
jayr@nysef.org

EDITOR’S NOTE-  Anyone who jumped in Lake Placid from 1955 through 2000 most certainly came to know Jay Rand and Chuck Berghorn who grew up first jumping and then managing the hills in town.  Chuck was among the best hill prep guys in the US (possibly world).  What follows was written by Jay Rand and documents a well-known incident in the early 90’s.  Jay publicly “roasted” Chuck by seating him on a stool at the front of the ORDA Christmas party in 1992.

I was the manager of the Olympic Jumping Complex from 1979 through 1995 and through it all was fortunate to have a lifetime friend, Chuck Berghorn as my assistant manager.  Chuck had a great jumping background and was one of John Viscome’s original Lake Placid junior jumpers.  CHuck was also among the all time greats when it came to hill preparation ranking up there with such greats as Sig Evensen, Ed Brisson, and Snowball Severud.  I think Chuck slept in his crampons while hugging his 4′ aluminum rake.

The Chuck Roast Poem describes a day that Chuck walked into the jump office below the K120 take-off dressed in his red one-piece jumping suit saying he was headed up.  I encouraged him to start on the 20m since he hadn’t jumped that season.  Insulted, he reminded me that he had successfully taken his first jump the previous season on the K90 and was going to raise the bar and head up to the K120.  At first I thought he was joking, but…


Chuck Roast- Poetic Justice
Christmas 1992
 
T’was the day after tryouts in my office did stray
A short plump man in a jumpsuit of the day.
At first glance I giggled when I saw this sight
But he said don’t be foolish I still have my might..
 
I asked his intention
That he’d failed to mention.
He turned toward the window and lit up a smoke
Turned to me and said with a poke,
“I’m a man with a task, a man with the mission
Not golf, tennis, huntin’ or fishin’.
Though I look like Santa in my tight red suit
I’m going up the ninety, I don’t give a hoot.”
 
“Chuck don’t be foolish” I said with a nod
“For god sakes, look at your bod.
You’re not the man you used to be.
Hell, without glasses you can hardly see.”
 
If looks could kill I’d have been dead
For the terrible thing I had said.
He glared and then turned, quickly about
Said “this is it, I’m going out.”
 
Upon his shoulder he threw his skis
With nary a thought to my pleas.
The crowd they did look with wondering eyes
As he strutted to the elevator with those skinny thighs
 
For one last plea I yelled, “Chuck abort!”
But he looked at me and said with a snort,
“It’s not on a dare or ‘cause of more hair,
I gotta do it because it is there.”
 
I knew in a moment, I knew in my head,
That the next few minutes would be full of dread.
This difficult challenge could be a test
With enough pounding to put him to rest.
 
In the elevator up the tower he rose
Not once did he appear to have soiled his clothes.
Out of the elevator he did step
Full of vim, vigor, and lots of pep.
 
His eyes were in a wild glaze
As he climbed to the top through the thick haze.
Onto the start with the greatest of ease
Still ignoring all the desperate pleas.
 
He stretched and he growled
But the weather had fouled
Yet there was no way
Chuck would not jump that day.
 
He zipped up his suit
and tightened his boot.
All other points at this time were mute.
His bindings were fastened, his goggles he cleared
He didn’t look either frightened or feared.
 
Possibly a bit weird.
 
Threw on his helmet at the top of the site,
Came out of the start with all of his might.
Down the steep track rapidly he flew
Screaming “don’t worry Carl, I won’t sue.”
 
As he plunged the descent, his face did frown,
On the track he left a streak of brown.
Through the transition he did fly
About ready to enter the sky.
 
He hit the takeoff with all of his might
God, what an incredible sight.
His mouth wide open, his teeth were ajar
I knew in an instant he wasn’t going far.
 
The look on his face was totally blank
That’s when the arms began to crank.
His knees they came up, high as the chest,
He wouldn’t even fly over the hill crest.
 
The coaches they muttered
As this old war hound shuddered.
This guy’s in trouble
He’ll soon be rubble.
 
The skis they came up, then they went down
‘Yikes’ he screamed, “here comes the ground!”
 
Before he did land he started to spin
“Holy shit,” he yelled, “I’m going in!”
 
One ski flew east, the other west,
It was hard to believe he was once the best.
All watched in amazement as he tumbled and fell
All thinking the same, “He’s going through hell.”
 
I ain’t just a lyin’,
The snow was a flyin’
All you could hear was the crowd a cryin’.
He tumbled and flipped,
Cracked his hip,
Shattered his elbow tip,
Pounded his head,
As if it were lead.
The bones they did creak
As he let out a shriek
“Seems like I’ve tumbled for more than a week.”
 
Down the steep hill on to the flats
He left a red trail for the vampire bats.
He slid to a stop at the base of the hill.
The EMT screamed, “ Whoa, Chuckie, lay still!”
 
“No way,” he cried, as he rose to his feet,
“I’m a man among men, I can take the heat.”
Proudly he stared back up the hill
“Can’t wait till I get this doctor’s bills!”
 
Suddenly reality struck,
And standing no more was the flyer, Chuck.
He had passed out cold,
Didn’t look so bold
As on the ground he lay
As if there to stay.
 
Maybe next time he’ll listen to Jay.

USASJ Story Project 23-Dec-13 GEOFF HOWE


The future of Nordic combined ski jumping in Calgary in 2000.  FRONT Morgan Goodwin, Geoff Howe, Alex Glueck, Trey Oxford, Chris Decker.  BACK  Race Price, Adam Schwall, Brendan Nicholson.

GEOFF HOWE
Age 31
Gunstock Nordic Association
Gilford, NH
howerdser@yahoo.com

I grew up in NH jumping the great hills at Gunstock, and had moved to Lake Placid to go to National Sports Academy (NSA), affectionately known as the “No School Academy” for us ski jumpers.  With only 4 of us ski jumpers/ NC skiers in the whole school it only took a sideways glance between us to know that one of us would make a call to the teachers explaining that there was simply NO WAY we could make it to class that day; there was training we just COULDN’T miss.  Playing hooky we would jump into the Decker’s Explorer and b-line it to the GFU to pick up a supply of candy and soda and head to the ski jumps! The friends I made during this time have stayed with me, and are still my closest of friends. They are my family, US ski jumping is one big family!

At one point this picture represented the future of USA Nordic Combined, or so we thought! It was the spring of 2000 and there was a very heated competition going on in the USA NC world. The next development team was to be named based on how we did during the World Cup “B” tour that was traveling North America.

The picture was taken at the event in Calgary at the end of the tour. For me wasn’t just the end of the tour that took me from Lake Placid to Steamboat and then to Calgary, it was the start of a very exciting adventure. The next devo team was named and I was lucky enough to be on the list. It was a dream come true!  Getting named to the team I promptly dropped out of high school and drove West;  I figured that I was going too much anyway! This was a choice that caused me lots of grief for a long time but one that I would do again in a heartbeat!  Ski jumping allowed me to travel the world and meet so many amazing people, I wouldn’t change anything! 

To all you mothers out there appalled at the thought of their kid dropping out of high school to go ski jumping, don’t worry, it all works out in the end!  After some of the most amazing years of my life I finished school and am currently a nuclear engineer with a great job….let your kids follow the dream! Reading these jumping stories has reminded me of how amazing this sport is, and how much in common we all share!


Howe plying and playing the LP updrafts.

USASJ Story Project 22-Dec-13 ELDRIDGE FRENCH


The binds that tie… and stick.  Frenchie’s ski jumping buddies, now golf friends Nipper Jacobson, Greg Windsperger, and Jerry Martin

ELDRIDGE “FRENCHIE” FRENCH
Age 66
Chanhassen, MN
Minneapolis Ski Club 

During the mid to late sixties the Central Division of the USSA had Winter Training camps before and after Christmas at Mt. Valhalla near Bayfield, Wisconsin. This was just off Lake Superior so the lake effect snow dropped six plus inches of snow every night and the temperatures hovered well below zero. Needless to say we tracked and tracked that hill about four times a day, sometimes more. I remember one year when the snow was unusually heavy and the coaches loved to have us to run in the snow after jumping. On one particular day we were to run up the side of the landing hill and circle through the woods for about a mile and back down to the outrun. Dummer Jacobson thought he and I could take a short cut through the woods without getting caught by the coaches. As soon as we dropped off the trail I knew I was in big trouble. Dummer lead the way, at six feet six plus, and started to sink to his waist. I followed and was pretty much buried in the snow. It took us about an hour to take our short cut and catch up with the others who were sitting in the out run and laughing their asses off. Those winter training camps were all about ski jumping but also about great developing life time relationships. The Jacobson twins and I keep in touch almost daily by email after 52 years of friendship and countless bullshit stories when we get together in person. Every year Nipper shoots more deer, catches larger fish and sinks more long putts than any human alive. Without ski jumping our paths would never have crossed. The stories from the training camps could go on forever and fond memories will never die.

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