Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined
Salisbury Winter Sports Association
Satre Hill Ski Jump, Salisbury CT
February 22-26, 2011
To make a long story short, they pulled it off! The National Jumping Committee agreed to have SWSA host the JO's, the Churchill Brothers Construction Company pulled down the old tower, regraded the roads and the landing hill, and built a new steel tower which has been called "a Rolls-Royce." [ See pictorial report.] Club members cleared and graded the area to the north of the outrun, did face lifts on the Byrd house and the cook shack, and built deflection boards on the landing, and 'Cricket' Trotta constructed a new judges stand described by officials as "a palace". (How about Wi-Fi in the judges stand?). Construction was finally finished some time around Christmas and soon the snowstorms began to roar up through New England.
The first half of the winter was spent preparing for the big event -- the Junior Olympics. This national event has gone through a number of variations through the decades. It began as the National Championships for Juniors (Junior Nationals) with just one jumping event and one cross country race. Later it became one of many national sporting events for youngsters under the umbrella title and organization "Junior Olympics" and it grew to involve two age groups and two sizes of jumping hills. Extra events were added, such as a team jump and an elimination jump, making the JO's a three to five day festival. Around the year 2000, officials decided that the event should be split into two events, a big hill event for Junior-I and Older Junior skiers -- this became the North American Championships -- and a JO event for Junior-II jumpers which could then be held on a single hill, a smaller jump down to size 50 meters. After just a few seasons, officials backtracked and invited Junior-I skiers (age 16 & 17) back into the JO's. (The North Americans remain in place for now.) That left us where we were in 2011, except that the title "Junior Olympics" was dropped and we went back to Junior National. We still haven't heard a definitive explanation for the title change.
The shakedown event for JO's was the annual Salisbury Ski Jumping weekend, scheduled for February 11-13, with the JO jumping to begin just ten days later. The numerous winter storms that visited the north-east gave the SWSA hill crew plenty to work with, and the jump was prepared for its first test jump. On the morning of Feb. 11, SWSA jumper and Eastern Masters champion Mark Breen had the honor of taking the first jump on the new hill. A modest change was made on the takeoff based on Mark's comments, and the hill was ready for its maiden voyage. The Saturday Salisbury Invitational and the Sunday Eastern Championships went off beautifully. The grand opening attracted a handful of jumpers who may not have made the trip, had it not been a very special occasion. [ See results.]
SWSA volunteers didn't have any time to bask in the pleasure of this accomplishment -- they had less than ten days to make final preparations for the big event, the JO's. And they prepared well. The weather tried to throw a curve-ball with a big thaw on Feb. 17-18, forcing the hill crew to re-snow the tower on Saturday, Feb 19, but they were equal to the task.
Most of the young jumpers coming east for the JO's traveled first to Brattleboro VT to compete Feb. 19-20 on the new-in-2009 Harris Hill 90 meter jump. When the skiers arrived in Salisbury, they found a jump in perfect condition and enjoyed some great jumping before the official schedule began with the opening ceremonies on Main Street. [ See Tuesday pictures.]
Wednesday saw official training (3 rounds) on the new 70 meter jump in the morning, [ see pictures or training results.] and later, official training on the cross country course at nearby Mohawk Mt. Ski Area. Thursday was the big day, with individual jump competition in the morning [ see complete results or flight pictures of the four champions] and cross country races for individual Nordic combined competition late in the afternoon. [ See pictures or complete results.] The weather was perfect and the events went off beautifully, with jumpers from the Central Division (MN, MI, WI, IL) dominating the podium. [ Tour the new tower.] Mike Collin, a SWSA skier who traveled for a couple of seasons with the US Nordic Combined Team, stepped in at the last minute and did a good job on the PA, announcing for all four competitions.
Friday was a day off -- a rest day for the athletes which was reserved in case earlier events might be postponed. The only event scheduled for Friday was an elimination jump under the lights which is not considered a main line event. On that day, the weather gods tried again to spoil the week, with snow changing to rain as temperatures rose, then around sunset, buffeting winds ushering in the next cold front. The hill crew covered the entire track with plastic on Thursday evening, and on Friday, organizers wisely cancelled the elimination jump -- it would have been impossible anyway with the winds that sprung up later. And they didn't touch the landing hill or outrun until Saturday morning when they raked the frozen granular layer into an inch of perfect sugar snow, providing the most luxurious conditions of the week for Saturday morning team jumping. [ See podium pictures or complete results.] The Team Sprint Relay races on Saturday afternoon were exciting with several very close races [ see results ] after which everybody cleaned up for the closing banquet, held at the Interlaken where all the teams were housed.
A flower ceremony was held on site immediately following each event, but all medals were awarded after the banquet. David McCahill manned the microphone and directed the festivities, and for each event, presentations were made by a different SWSA official. Everyone agreed that it had been a great event and that SWSA had done a terrific job. We understand that next year's JO's will be in Park City, UT, and the Park City coach Alan Alborn was quoted as saying "How are we going to follow this?"
It should be noted that this was not just a SWSA event -- it was considered an Eastern event and volunteers came from Brattleboro, Lebanon, Lake Placid and elsewhere to spend a week helping to make the JO's a success. Congratulations to all of the organizers, officials and volunteers on a terrific job!
Results and coverage can be found on three web sites. Timing and scoring was done by Tom Kendall, a ski jumper and Nordic combined skier from the 1970's, who posted early scores on his own timing company web site. In addition to their own club web site, SWSA established a special JO web site with schedules, maps, results, and much more. (Links to results, etc., in the left column.) And this site, SkiJumpEast.com, has several short pages of pictorial reports.
|We understand that the title "Junior Olympics" is no longer being used for this event and that we have returned to the old title "Junior National Championships", sometimes shortened to "Junior Nationals" If someone gives us a clear and authoritative explanation of this, we will share it in this space. We are listening! DW|
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