Doug Maki enjoying the ride of his life. Below he discusses whether returning to some of the less-structured practices of days gone by might make us all a little better.
DOUG MAKI (age 62)
Itasca Ski Club
CURATOR’S NOTE- Doug Maki is a revered and long-time fixture around the Central circuit. In 2016 he was inducted into both the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and the St Paul Ski Jumping Hall of Fame. He’s got both the wisdom of years and experience.
I can see that the sport of ski jumping has moved forward in the last two to three decades. We now have things such as snow making, groomers, cut tracks on the in-runs, equipment such as “safety” bindings, skis, boots and helmets. But there is one aspect that I feel the sport has gone backwards in and that is early season jumping, especially in the Central Division and especially in Northern Minnesota where I am a member of the Itasca Ski and Outing Club of Coleraine.
We have had early snow (early November) this year. If this was thirty years ago our club skiers would have had 20-30 jumps in by now. Keep in mind that Coleraine used to have Central training camps every Thanksgiving weekend on our 45 meter jump and sometimes on our 70 meter jump. This was all done before snow making, groomers and cut tracks.
Now don’t get me wrong, we would have loved to have cut tracks when we were young. We would have loved to have the groomer take care of the landing hills for us. This is a wonderful thing.
I realize that today the programs are more structured such as registration, liability waivers, equipment hand out, etc. but this should not keep the jumpers from early snow skiing when the opportunity arises. Let’s take a look at our young jumpers today. Most of them are afraid to ride an in-run without a cut track. I’m not buying it. I watch them ride the landing hill in their in-run position without a track. And have you seen the fancy turns and stops that they make at the end of the outrun. But they can’t go straight down a snow in-run? Once again, I’m not buying it.
So why is early snow skiing not happening? It’s not the kids or parents fault, they have never been taught that you can snow in a hill with just shovels, rakes and skis. This is not something you can Google search. Once again it is not their fault.
I don’t want to sound negative on this topic so what can we do to turn this around so our jumpers can get early snow season training and be ahead of the game when it comes to the competition season? One answer is for the older members of the clubs to teach the younger generation how to snow in the hill the old fashion way and start jumping early season.
To end my story I am going to sound a little smug. The jumpers of yesterday would make the jumpers of today look like wimps. All joking aside though, let’s get this thing turned around.