Have you ever been to a ski jumping event?
Until today, my answer would’ve been “no.” But today I had the pleasure of attending the Harris Hill Ski Jump Meet, an annual occurance in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Harris Hill Ski Jump is the only 90-meter ski jump in New England and the newest Olympic size jump in the country. The Hill’s been in nearly continuous operation since 1923. Only an occasional snow drought, World War II, and a three-year hiatus to re-build the jump (2006 – 2008) have interrupted the annual tradition. It’s been the site of 18 national and regional championships, most recently in 1992 when Brattleboro hosted the National Championships.
Here’s how you know you’re in Vermont:
The skis the jumpers use are incredibly long and wide, with free heel bindings that allow them to lean forward as they soar off the ramp.
It’s breathtaking to watch.
There were jumpers from all over the place: Steamboat, CO; Park City, UT; Lake Placid, NY. Even a few Europeans.
Although most were men, a few — six, I think — were young women, competing in the Ladies category. Which reminded me that ski jumping is the only event in the Summer and Winter Games in which the IOC doesn’t allow women to compete.
I’ve written about this a few times in this blog, most recently here and here. I won’t go into it all again now — suffice it to say that the IOC backs up its decision with a variety of crackpot reasons, ranging from “ski jumping is bad for women’s bodies from a medical point of view,” to “women’s ski jumping lacks universality.” But even today at Harris Hill, it was easy to see that these young women are tremendously talented athletes, and excluding them from the games is beyond belief.
That said, if you have the chance to attend a ski jumping event, by all means, go. Watching people soar off a ramp with huge boards strapped to their feet is an amazing spectacle. And Harris Hill is a great place to do it.