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

Coleraine, MN

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.

7 Comments on “DOUG MAKI- 3 DEC 2017

  1. I hear you Doug. Times have changed considerably. It is tough to bring some of the old good things along but that is just the way it is. People don’t want to live in the past, especially kids. Shaping a knoll, landing and transition with a rake and shovel while on a pair of skis is probably not worth learning anymore. Countless times have I said, “Through ski-jumping I learned many unmarketable skills”. As I observe the luxury cars and SUVs that fill the club parking lot at Blackhawk it becomes apparent that people want a great experience for the kids and w-o-r-k is not one of them!
    Think back about some of the trashy junk hills that dared to be called “ski-jumps” that we learned on. We laugh about it now. We are better off encouraging a kid to hop up the stairs one more time rather than lugging another basket of snow up the tower. They would agree.
    Thank you for bringing this interesting topic up. For sure, I don’t have all the answers either but we live in a different era.

  2. Wow. I hear ya Doug. I think it should be a requirement for every ski jumper today to have to experience the exhilaration of barreling down the inrun of Silvermine hill, on the flat solid mass of ice shavings WITHOUT a track cut. And Thanksgiving would be a great time for a training camp in Eau Claire. Let’s do it!

  3. Kudos’s to Doug for his candid comments! He is absolutely correct about early jumping opportunities missed with today’s athletes. Back in the 60’s we couldn’t wait to prepare the jumps at Chester Bowl – even when snowfall was limited, the city would truck in snow scraped off of the iced in lakes and dump truck-full by truck-full at the top of the landing hill. The coaches and athletes would then move the snow by hand, gunny sacks and skiis to prepare the jump and landing so that we could kick-off the season with huge smiles.

    Doug, thank you for your continued support!

    Darryl Landstrom

    • First off, Hello Doug Maki!!

      I will agree with what Darryl said as far as snowing in the ski jumps at Chester Bowl. We had to first put snow over Chester Creek which we got from the pond above the dam. I remember many cold nights hauling gunny sacks of snow up the scaffolds of Little Chester and Big Chester. Putting the sacks on your back and having snow fall down inside your ski jacket. The rule of thumb was, if you didn’t help snow in the jumps you didn’t jump.

      Then of course there was snowing in Fond du Lac our 70 meter jump. Lots of snow was needed on the landing hill, along with pine tree branches to fill in the natural spring hole in the middle of the landing. I remember the piles of snow on the knoll area that snowplows gathered. We would then put on skis and slide it down the landing. If some of you remember the landing was narrow and steep.

      Those were the ” good ole days” We could not wait for the first snowfall to get the jumps snowed in.

      Doug, thank you for the nice memories. A lot of friendships were formed ski jumping.

  4. Back in the 50’s the youngsters including myself carried many gunny sacks half full of snow up the tower (full sacks were left for our dads) and if we didn’t, we didn’t ski. My how things have changed with our younger generation.

  5. Here is a follow up to Doug’s story. On December 15th we called for a work party to snow the inruns of our 20 and 40 meter jumps. Our process is fairly efficient and doesn’t take much expertise or time. It just takes some bodies to shovel snow and do some raking and screeding. We were done in 2.5 hours. Our workforce demographics will make one wonder how we could do more than just stand around, drink coffee and talk about the good old days. Our workers included a 78 year old, a 76 year old, a 67 year old, a 63 year old, two 62 year olds, a 60 year old, three or so skier parents younger than that, and a handful of young skiers who did their best to have fun while “working”. Unless things change, next year we will have (hopefully) a 79 year old, a 77 year old, a 68 year old, a 64 year old, two 63 year olds, a 61 year old . . . . See where this is going?

    Now we have to cut, clean and water the tracks. Once our crew heals from the initial work party we will take on this task. I hope they are straight this year! After that is done, maybe we can than stand around, drink coffee and tell stories about the good old days. Meanwhile, we hope the kids can get a few jumps in before Christmas!


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