Salisbury to host 2011 Junior Olympic jumping
By CYNTHIA HOCHSWENDER
January, 28, 2010
SALISBURY — It might seem like a quaint old-fashioned ski jump, hidden away on a hill behind a field behind the LaBonne’s parking lot. But the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) jump at Satre Hill has earned a significant honor: In 2011, it will be the site of the Junior Olympic Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Event.
Fans of the sport who live in this part of the world know that ski jumping is a decades-old tradition. There used to be several jumps in area towns (see Page A8 for reminiscences of one former jump hill in North Canaan).
And it’s also a known fact that many of the top American jumpers compete here each year on jump weekend (this year’s begins Friday, Feb. 5, and continues through the weekend. For a full schedule, see the SWSA guide in this week’s Lakeville Journal). In fact, this year’s jumps (now known as Jumpfest) will be smaller than normal, because some of the athletes who would usually be competing here are going to be at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Peter Frenette, for example, has jumped several times in Salisbury at the SWSA event. This year, according to SWSA President Ken Barker, “He’ll be at the World Junior Olympics for a week and then he’ll go on to train with the U.S. Ski Jump Team for Vancouver.”
Salisbury has a long history of locals who have competed in the Olympics, including the Satre brothers (Magnus and Ottar), who introduced the sport to Salisbury in 1926; although they were immigrants from Norway, they competed on the U.S. ski jumping team in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, along with Salisbury residents Birger Torrissen and Richard Parsons Sr. Salisbury’s Roy Sherwood jumped for the U.S. in the 1956 games in Cortina, Italy.
All those men continued to coach and encourage young skiers and jumpers in the Northwest Corner during their lifetimes, and their legacy and their work are carried on by the extremely active volunteers of SWSA (pronounced, of course, swah-suh). These volunteers do everything from selling chili and candy bars on jump days; to planning the Snow Ball party at The White Hart and the ice carving competition (also at The White Hart) to finding homes for the athletes to stay in when they are in town for the competition.
The jumpers don’t seem to mind dossing down with local families. In fact, when interviewed, most say that this is one of their favorite venues for jumping, specifically because it’s such an intimate experience. They get to know the local townsfolk during their stay here, sometimes developing friendships that last through their entire lives. They also say they get a kick out of jumping at cozy Satre Hill, where fans bring out Swiss-style cow bells and ring them vigorously to encourage the jumpers to do their best. They can see the faces of the audience and hear their applause as they fly out over the snowy landing hill.
The jump itself is something of a relic. It was built in the 1950s and will have to be replaced before the Junior Olympics arrive. The old wooden structure, with its narrow vertigo-inducing stairs, will be replaced by a steel structure that meets modern specifications.
Money will be needed, obviously, to make this happen. But Northwest Corner residents have always been generous when it comes to this much-loved highlight of the winter season. The costs are expected to run nearly three-quarters of a million dollars: $500,000 for the tower, $100,000 for the judge’s stand, $100,000 for upgrades to the hill.
A Sharon firm, Churchill Brothers LLC, will do the work as soon as enough money has been collected.
Donations to this project should really be looked at as an investment in the future, Barker said. The impact on the local economy is expected to be significant, he said. The SWSA jumps already draw between 1,400 and 2,000 viewers. The Junior Olympics (which are expected to return to Salisbury every four years) will be held about a week after the SWSA Jumpfest. They will last for four days and should bring hundreds of jumpers and their coaches and families, as well as thousands of jump fans, to Salisbury.
“We are thrilled at the prospect of hosting such a prestigious event,” Barker said. “It will be the most exciting competition in Salisbury in more than 50 years. We are delighted to bring the nation’s top young jumpers and skiers to Satre Hill.”
© Copyright 2010 by TCExtra.com
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