A leap into history
Fact or fiction: This year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi marks the first year women’s ski jumping will be recognized as a medal-placing sport.
The quick answer is true.
On April 6, 2011, the International Olympic Committee announced that a women’s ski jumping event would be added to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games program, making it the last winter sport both genders can now compete and medal in.
Interestingly enough, the USA Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum sponsored by Friends of American Ski Jumping has recently moved from its original headquarters in Park City, Utah, to the self-proclaimed birthplace of American ski jumping – Red Wing.
A fanfare of work has been under way for relocation and a grand opening is set for Saturday Jan. 25 on the mezzanine level at the St. James.
Former Olympic ski jumper and Minnesota native Bryan Sanders will manage the new office and museum area, completed by funds granted through the Red Wing Area Foundation.
Jerry Borgen, a veteran of the Red Wing Aurora Ski Club, describes the space as gorgeous.
Although there may be no ski jump currently available in town, the location of the museum is rather fitting.
In 1883, brothers Torjus and Mikkel Hemmestvedt brought ski jumping to Red Wing from Norway, Sanders explained. “The birthplace of ski jumping is the result of those Norwegian immigrants that came over and introduced the sport here in Red Wing.”
Sanders describes how the influx of Norwegians in the area caused the sport to grow across the map and gain local interest.
“From 1900 on, the upper Midwest was the hot haven for ski jumping, we really grew that history here,” he said.
In fact, Red Wing was the site for the 1928 and 1936 National Ski Jump Tournament, reportedly drawing in crowds of 25,000 spectators.
Borgen recalls his days ski jumping locally.
“It was before TV and before iPads,” he said. “So what do you do? You go skiing.”
Sanders, a 1992 Olympian, is the last Minnesotan ski jumper to participate in the Winter Games.
Colorado and Utah still operate as meccas for ski jumping, according to Sanders, but locally the sport is not too far out of reach. The St. Paul Ski Club, a junior program, holds jumps every Friday.
“Part of our long-term vision is to bring junior jumping back to Red Wing,” he said.
More in the museum
Prior to the museum there was a small exhibit in the St. James Hotel dedicated to the history of ski jumping.
The Red Wing Area Foundation and the St. James Hotel have partnered up to expand space and house more history: $50,000 was given to the U.S. Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum complete the project.
The space that was once Shear Perfection was remodeled.
“This gives us a chance to display the timeline of the sport,” Sanders said, noting how the expansion has allowed area to include actual jumping skis.
Visitors can travel along the perimeter of the space, exploring the development of ski jumping from its birth in 1883 to present day through old pictures, historic information and skiing paraphernalia.
There will be a ski jumping simulator, allowing participants experience the view from jumper’s perspective.
Topping off the displays is a diorama – a moment in time taken right out of the 1928 National Ski Jump Tournament on Charlson Hill in Red Wing. The accurate re-creation was crafted by local artist John Cain.
Complete with a ski jumper launching off the ramp, Cain said this project was the biggest piece he has ever worked on, describing it as “his crowning achievement.”
With details incredibly delicate, even car tracks in the flaky artificial snow can be seen at the base of jump.
“I’m a realist, so to speak,” Cain said.
Cain and Borgen actually scouted the original jump site to get a feel for the land. Once called Charlson Hill, the area off Spring Creek Road is not marked.
Borgen, remembers being at the site like it was yesterday, recalling the tiniest of details about the time of day to the judge’s stands. “It’s perfect,” he adds, looking over the diorama.
“It really is a special piece,” Sanders commented. “And I’ve been in every ski jumping country in the world and never seen anything this cool as far as replicating a jump. It’s really special.”
Doors for the grand opening open at 3 p.m. Don’t miss the award-winning documentary “Ready to Fly” — the story of the long battle for recognition and inclusion of female jumpers at the highest level of the sport. The movie will be shown at 4 p.m.
Dinner is at 6 p.m. followed by a ceremony for the 2014 inductees into the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame.
Tickets for the event are $35 for both the dinner and the movie; $5 for just the movie and may be reserved through the St. James reception desk or by calling Jerry Borgen at 651-380-8960 or Bryan Sanders at 651-592-6740.
Check out www.americanskijumping.com for more information. To learn more about St. Paul Ski Club visit www.stpaulskiclub.com and for more about the US Women’s Ski Jumping team check out www.wsjusa.com.
If you go …
What: Celebrate the grand opening of the freshly relocated USA Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum.
When: 3 p.m. doors open, 4 p.m. movie, 6 p.m. dinner Saturday Jan. 25
Where: Mezzanine level, St. James Hotel
Cost: $35 movie and dinner, $5 movie
More info: www.americanskijumping.com