It’s amazing what happens when you’re open to a bit of serendipity. While at the Windy City Ski and Snowboard Show in the fall, while walking towards the Adopt-a-Husky booth (beautiful dogs), we stopped to chat with Tom at the USA Ski Jumping booth. He invited us to attend an international ski jumping competition that takes place right in out back yard at the Norge Ski Club. This was the 109th edition of the event, so clearly they are doing some things right.
We’ve watched a couple of documentaries about the women’s ski jumpers struggle to get their sport into the Olympics, which only whetted our appetite to go see it in person.
Sunday, which also happened to be Tazer’s 13th birthday, we headed out, not really knowing what to expect. This is northern Illinois after all, where would they hide a ski jump?
As you drive up to a typical suburban shopping center, rising up behind the grocery store is a massive ski jump towering over the trees. Nope, can’t hide it after all. We arrived early, planning on eating lunch at the club, and were amazed at how many cars were already in the parking lot.
Picking up our passes, a pin (some folks had pins from previous years all over themselves), we headed in, happily catching the end of the warm-up jumps. Lunch was good but quick, as it was too cold to spend time sitting around. There was a really festive atmosphere and the kids were really impressed with the international field – jumpers from Norway, Serbia and more were all there. The kids got a bigger thrill when they were invited to carry flags in the opening ceremonies!Once the ceremonies were over, it was time to jump!
Even though it was quite cold, people were excited, happy, and appreciative of the display put on. A firewood company had set up shop on the side of the hill, selling prepared logs, showcasing their wares by lighting fires throughout the crowd, giving us a chance to warm up when needed.
It truly is amazing to watch the jumpers hurl themselves off the massive structure, floating down the hill before landing and shooting past as they slow down. There are a variety of vantage points, so one could look straight up the hill or from the side. Lots of folks brought chairs, but many more stood or moved about, enjoying food and drink and the pleasure of viewing these amazing athletes. If you ever get a chance to see ski jumping in person, we recommend it highly.
We’re already talking about next year, maybe getting a group together to tailgate in the parking lot. And….the kids and I are thinking about trying it out, maybe coming out for one of their orientation sessions to see what ski jumping is all about.
Have a great weekend! We are heading to the tubing hill tomorrow to continue Tazer’s 13th birthday celebration, should be great fun. Find something new to try this weekend, you’ll be glad you did.
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