Start Ski Jumping
Everything you need to know to start flying down the slopes
Photo Courtesy U.S. Ski and Snowboard
The cradle of American ski jumping sits, rather surprisingly, in the humble hills surrounding Red Wing, site of the sport’s first U.S. competition, in 1887. For almost a century, Minnesota produced all the country’s best jumpers (mainly due to its large population of immigrants from Norway, where the sport was invented). Today, 2016 U.S. Cup champion Trevor Edlund, a Woodbury native, can trace his own history through those tracks. His grandfather was a ski jumper. His father was a ski jumper. His older brother was a ski jumper. And by the time he was two years old, he was flying down the hill as well. “There’s not a time when I don’t remember ski jumping,” he says. “Anyone can ski jump when they’re young—and it’s important that they’re young, because they don’t have that fear. Then it becomes second nature.” Ski jumping is exactly what it sounds like: racing down a long, usually wooden ramp (the “inrun”) at around 60 mph and launching yourself through the air hundreds of feet. (Edlund’s personal best is 440 feet, but his goal is to get beyond 650 feet, which is actually referred to as “Ski Flying,” an offshoot of the sport performed on larger hills.) Edlund and others are rooting for a proposed year-round, Olympic-size ski jump at the old Frontenac ski area to bring the center of American ski jumping back to the place where it started and to inspire a new generation to learn to fly. “The second you enter the air, you know if you did your jump right,” Edlund says. “And when that happens, that’s the best feeling. Then you’re just along for the ride. You’re floating. You’re flying. You feel your body lift up and you just fly to the bottom of the hill.”
Push down, jump forward. Try to land past the “K-Point” where the hill begins to flatten out.
St. Paul Ski Club (Maplewood), Minneapolis Ski Jumping Club (Hyland Lake Park Reserve), Itasca Ski Jumping Club (Mt. Itasca/Grand Rapids), Cloquet Ski Club (Cloquet), Flying Eagles Ski Club (Eau Claire) [Most of these have year round jumping]
Friday Night Flights (St. Paul Ski Club), Weekend Central Division Competitions (rotating locations), Flying Eagles Invitational, (Jan., Eau Claire), Nordic Jump Fest (Feb., St. Paul Ski Club)
Speed, flexibility, balance, coordination
Enter the air like a diver: “When I’m going down the ramp at 50, 60 mph, I’m thinking of getting into that forward, flat position for my entry into the air,” Edlund says. “A diver is trying to make a perfect entry into the water, with the least amount of splash, and we’re trying to make our entry into the air with the least amount of splash, as smooth as possible so you carry all that speed you had going down the ramp to a nice smooth entry into the air.”
Helmet, goggles, snow jacket and pants (or speed suit), skis, boots, gloves. Most kids start out on downhill skis and move to special ski jumping skis.
In competition, skiers get one trial and two rounds. Point awarded both for distance and “style.”
Lower than you’d think. “There are a lot more injuries in one game of football than I’m going to see in a year in the whole world of ski jumping,” Edlund says.
Jumping too far, landing on the flat versus incline
Core, legs. “Ski jumpers have skinny arms and can’t bench anything,” Edlund notes. “But get them on the squat rack, and they can do twice their body weight.”
Current world record: 832 feet
Jumping itself: ***
Conquering your fear: *****
Ski Flying: ********