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.
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 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.
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.