Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Håkon Helgesen flies out over the knoll during a practice session on Friday.

Friday, January 29, was the day for the jumpers to test out the run before the competition. I was given permission to stand at the top of the knoll to get a better sense of what it was like to jump at Norge. From my vantage point I could look up to the top of the “Inrun” – the ramp the jumpers speed down before leaping into their flight – and look down the slope to the K-point – the red line each jumper wants to reach or jump past. I was standing only 10 feet away from the line of flight and I could easily hear the sound of the jumper passing thru the air. In a world where the sounds we hear are accompanied by the sound of mechanical pumps or motors, this was a sound that I had never heard before. It was the sound of air pushing against the jumper as they took flight, a little like a flag or kite in a breeze, but far less violent, or the fast hand movements of a martial arts fighter in some Hollywood movies.

Bob Fisk, Ken Nordan and Don Hogenson participate in the Sunday event.

I asked Håkon Helgesen, one of the jumpers from the Norwegian Team, about the sound. He told me that he does not hear anything when he jumps, not the sound of the crowd, not the sound of the air, not the thud of his skis hitting the ground after flying in the air almost 250 feet on this hill. He did know the sound I heard, a sound that only jumpers and people close to the sport heard and were able to understand.

Landing after one of the longest jump of the day at over 80 meters!

Armchair sportsmen of the 1970’s and 1980’s will never forget the melodramatic beginning to the ABC Sports show. “The Wide World of Sports”, where announcer Jim McKay spoke the catch-phrase “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”, with the dreadful 1970 fall of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj playing out before our eyes.

The Norway Team at the Opening Ceremony: (l to r) Håkon Helgesen, Eivind Hugaas, Flag Bearer Ken Nordan, Børge G. Blikeng, Coach Roger Halvorsen

The only time I’ve jumped anything on skis was in a video game. But, I can – to some extent – understand the exhilaration these athletes feel when they fly thru the air when I think back to my days as a Boy Scout riding on the “zip-line” we constructed over a gorge at summer camp. With the image of Bogataj’s fall playing out in my mind, I looked out over the crowd and watched the jumpers speed down the ramp to send their bodies flying out over the knoll. No one fell like Bogataj, some did however make less graceful landings than others. But, regardless of how they landed or how far they flew, each jumper let out a loud scream as they slide to a stop after the jump. And, is if the jumper’s exhilaration had been transferred to the onlookers, the large crowd echoed back with an even bigger scream.

Børge was not feeling well, but gave us a great show in the Longest Standing competition.

Roger and Eivind Reviewing Notes before the Tournament. They both spent a lot of time helping me to understand the sport.

If you did not get a chance to see this tournament, Norge Ski Club has jumpers practicing on a regular basis. Visit their web site for more details. Norge is a year round facility, and the Norwegian jumpers all asked to come back in September 2010 for the fall tournament.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon I went out to the Norge Ski Club “Jump Site”. The club is gearing up for the 105th annual Ski Jump Tournament this weekend January 30 – 31. As many of you from the Chicago area know the last couple of weeks has not been real good for snow the temperature was well over freezing. Three weeks ago we had over a foot of snow on the ground and as of Tuesday morning the only place I saw snow was where the snow plow piled it up in front of my house.

The ski jump hills at Norge Ski Club

As seen from the clubhouse the jumps are: far left K40, center K70, right K25, K10 and K5.

So with the absence of local snow I wanted to see what the jump master was doing to get ready for the event. Scott Smith and his team had been out most of the night with their snow machines giving mother nature a boost. I watched the crew move the machines into position to add snow to the Inrun and Knoll areas of the K5, K10 and K25 jump areas and then run over to the K70 hill to set up another machine to add snow to the Knoll of the K40 and K70 jumps.

I grew up in a Norwegian household that was more adept at speed skating than skiing. As a boy we made ice in the yard and later I refined my technique when my first job – post community college – was working at the park district making ice in the winter and cutting grass in the summer. Therefore, the wonder of making snow is very new to me, not that I don’t understand the principles I just had never seen the execution.

Making Snow on the K70 Hill

Making Snow on the K70 Hill.

Please enjoy these photos and remember to put on your calendar the event this weekend. Three jumpers from Norway as well as three teams from other European countries will be in attendance. My wife and I will be out at the jump taking pictures and interviewing the Norwegian jumpers. The Norge Ski Club is located in Fox River Grove, Illinois, near the intersection of Skill Hill Road and US Hwy 14. Watch for “Ski Hill” signs on Hwy 14.

Hope to see you there.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who contacted me with comments about my January 8, 2010 article in Norwegian-American Weekly about Roy Roe’s older brother Bob and his defense of Leif Ericsson and our Norwegian Heritage. I look forward to writing more articles in the coming months for NAW.

Ken Nordan – Contributing Editor

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