EPILOGUE: Frequent Fliers-ski jumping at Satre Hill
Shortly after last winter’s Jumpfest, the 84th annual rally around the Eastern Ski Jumping Championships at Satre Hill in Salisbury, Conn., Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) president Ken Barker petitioned for the venue to host the 2011 Junior Olympics in Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined (which adds a cross-country ski race to the jumping portion). The United States Ski and Snowboard Association was pleased to grant the honor to one of the oldest ski clubs in the country—with one caveat: that the organization replace the sixty-five-meter antique wooden ski jump with a state-of-the-art, reinforced-steel structure. No time for celebratory champagne; the volunteer-run SWSA was left with less than a year to raise $700,000 to design and build the eighty-foot-tall behemoth. Contractor and longtime Jumpfest enthusiast Rafe Churchill, of Sharon, Conn.-based Churchill Brothers, saw the Herculean task as the ultimate unification of architecture and sculpture. That, and, “Everyone I’ve ever brought here always fell for the old-world charm of the event,” he says.
On February 22-26, for first time in its history, Satre Hill will host the U.S. Junior Olympics, drawing seventy of the nation’s best junior jumpers (ages 17 and under) to soar more than two-hundred feet through the air—a length just shy of a football field—at fifty miles per hour.
First, however, fans will flock with cowbells to the 85th annual Jumpfest on February 11-13, creating a cozy cranny at the base of Satre Hill with bonfires, hot chocolate, and a chili cook-off, to see the youth compete on twenty-, thirty-, and sixty-five-meter jumps in the hopes of joining the Eastern Championship team on Sunday.
Though snowfall is inconsistent and icy conditions are common, Barker is steadfast in seeing the events through. “We traded in our dump trucks filled with parking-lot snow for high-tech whiteouts,” he says, referring to the long-ago installation of snowmaking equipment, “but all our volunteers still bring shovels.” Truly, old-school cool.[FEB/MAR 2011]
Junior Olympics: Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined
$12; free for kids under 12
80 Indian Cave Rd.