CURATOR’S NOTE- Zak Hammill coached in Ishpeming before moving to Alaska. We found a great video of him jumping in the 125th Ishpeming Tournament in 2012 which includes spectacular POV footage of a rapid-fire triple jump at the end of the piece. Check it outhere
My ski jumping adventure started in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and later moved even further north, if you can believe that. 4 years ago, I got an amazing opportunity to fly to Anchorage, Alaska and coach ski jumping for 4 months over the winter and then fly home. No strings attached, except for the unknown vacuum that is Alaska itself. I packed my bags and headed north December 1st into the land of 5 hour days, cold weather, and a ski jumping program I knew almost nothing about. Fortunately for me Alaskan hospitality is some of the best in the world and within the first couple weeks I realized that Alaska was the place for me.
Over the last couple of years, I have witnessed and heavily influenced, along with many others, one of the most substantial changes in a ski jumping club. When I arrived in Anchorage, Karen Compton and Vivienne Murray had laid incredible ground work for a ski jumping program, the only thing that was missing was the ski jumping culture. Day one on the job, a standard warm up routine seemed like a foreign language to the club, and imos where completely out of the question. This all seemed so crazy to me growing up in the Midwest where I grew up jumping with one of the deepest ski jumping cultures in the US.
Our first traveling trip really blew me away and I realized that a ski jumping culture had to be created. With a club that supported my every move, we began to develop this culture. With fundraising money obtained prior to my arrival, our plastic project started that following summer and we hired another coach for the small hills, Natasha Mattoon, for the next winter. Luckily for us she got sucked into permanently moving up here as well. Slowly the culture grew and grew. The kids and the parents began to understand the sport, and traveling on trips turned our kids into an actual ski jumping team.
4 years later I am still living and coaching in Anchorage. Ski jumping culture is now alive in Alaska. I know this because my jumpers can actually tell me who a world cup ski jumper is. Gus Compton got to jump with a few of them this summer in Europe. This year we will be hosting Junior Nationals, and I cannot wait to show the rest of the country how far the Alaska ski jumping club has really come. Without a doubt, the future of Alaska ski jumping is as bright as the northern lights on a cold crisp December Alaskan night. Few people actually get to mold and develop a ski jumping culture, and I feel very fortunate that Alaska gave me that opportunity.
Karen Compton and Vivienne Murray have been visionaries and amongst Alaska’s fervent volunteer base which has launched their club into flight. Check out this video on ski jumping safety that Team AK Ski Jumping recently worked with USANS to release:
Join the list of generous Story Project Donors and have your donation matched!
Thank You! With all of your generosity we raised $96,429 for our high flying athletes. Don’t wait for next year, send in your story now for the next edition!
Richard Armstrong Landis Arnold Tricia Asaro Dave Austin Jim Balfanz Rex Bell Allen & Cathy Belshaw Hans & Heidi Berend Tom Bickner Janet Bliss Stacey Border Steve Sama Bronwen Perkins Brian Burt Tom Calcagni Berit Campion Wade Cattell Gregg Cerveny Ted Chivers Pamela Clarke Corky Colby Michael Collin Steven Compton Andrew David Matthew Dayton Danielle Baca DeGarie Billy & Katie Demong Helen Demong & Joe Mcphillips Tim Denisson Jason & Kiki Densmore Paul Dillaway Tom Dodds Mark Donavan Tone and Kris Erichsen Kirsten Erickson Kevin Fedor Eldridge French Tom Fulton Steve & Kathy Glasder Chad Glese Jeff & Nancy Good Rich Gordin Jeff & Joanna Graves Jody Graves Mederic Hall Jennifer & Karl Hassrick Jeff Hastings Paul Hastings Susie Hastings Bill Hendrickson Jed Hinkley Harry Holland Jim Holland Mike Holland Chad Horne Ron & Nancy Jacobson Paul & Tami Jastrow Bruce Jennings Alan Johnson Scott Johnson Stuart Johnstone Hans & Nancy Johnstone Chris Jones Clint Jones Georgia Jones Kashiwa Family Ed Kimm Jim Kirkwood Davis Kitchel Stacey Kulp Justin & Jennifer Koski Darryl Landstrom Dave Lantz Tom Lantz Meg & Guy Larson Kathleen Ledges Ann Leitheiser Martina & Arthur Lussi Dan & Amy Macuga Brandon Maki Sig Malvik Cliff & Cheri Maki Walter Malmquist Melissa Marsted Jay Martin Jerry Martin Dan and Lisa Matoon Kevin McAllister Bill & Leci McCrillis Dennis Mcgrane Colleen McKiernan Rick Mewborn Kathy Meyer Rob & Nini Meyer Jarrett & Melody Moe Tammy Miller Errol Moffatt Carol Nevulis Tom Oddy Robin Outwater Ronnie Neal Kristin Petersen Matt Petri Brad & Pam Price Jay & Gun Rand Drew Richards David C Rikert Kenneth Ripp Charles Roach David Robinson Tommy Schwall Bryan Sanders Allan & Sally Seymour Bill Sharp Leon & Peggy Sharyon Todd Sheperd Carl Soderberg Steven Southworth John & Debbie Speca Johnny Spillane Dana Sprague Jim & Nancy Spillane Robert Stewart Larry & Meg Stone Steve & Diana Strandberg Tim Tetreault Lee Todd John Upton Jeff & Michelle Urlaub Carl & Paula Van Loan Craig & Becky Ward Dave & Kammie Ward Travis Webb Travis & Susan Wilkinson Stephanie & Todd Wilson Conroy Widmer Greg & Mary Windsperger Holly & Dave Wolff Benny & Becky Yih Dana Zelenakas Tracy & Rich Zuckerman Anonymous $25k Donor!