130 annual Ishpeming ski club jumping tournament

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What sporting event in the USA is older? I guess the Kentucky Derby is older and the Westminster dog show is close, and the Boston Marathon is 120 years old. But I don't count horses and dogs in the same sporting category as humans. So I toss out the dogs and horses. There is probably an older continuous human sporting event in the USA but I am not aware of it. If there is an older one it is probably another ski tournament or snow sport. Let me know if you know of an older continuous annual human sport event in the USA. I want to document this before all of us who volunteer to put this on are dead. The volunteers range from 17 to 91 but most are closer to my age of 71. The youngsters pretty much don't volunteer for anything. I apologize for so many photos and vids in advance but to my knowledge this type of documentation has never occurred before in the US.
The hill being prepared at 1 PM for the 6:30PM night jumps under the lights.
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Landing hill packer. It is hauled up the landing with a snatch block and dozer with 2 way radio communication for coordination. Got to be a jumper to do something this sketchy.
The club hall of fame. National champions, US Ski team members or Olympians through the centuries. Second row down, fourth from right, Henry Hall, two time world record holder from around 1900.

Some of our Junior Club jumping equipment.
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The Finnish, Slovenian and USA Coaches at the pre Tournament Coaches Meeting. The Chief of Competition, the USSA Technical Delegate and the Coaches go over the rules including what start gate, times, start order etc. The Competition Secretary records all decisions and all parties sign. Pretty low key.
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All in readiness as no one knows when when disaster may strike.
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The judges, timing, distance, speed, wind direction, PA, start light, computer calculation, Technical Delegate and Competition Secretary control booth.
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Workers raking off the loose snow before the jumps start. Golf sand trap rakes are used. Imagine raking a football field and the end zones with mountain climbing boots and climbing crampons . There are more rakers but the hill is so steep you can only see part of one guy. Hard on the back.

The in run. The out run is the landing. The size of the hill here is 97 meters, or the same size as an Olympic "Normal Hill". There is also an Olympic "Large Hill" about 30% larger. Ski Flying Hills are 3 times as big with the current world record at 825 feet.
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If you get there before dark you can get a good spot for your tail gate party.

Intermediate hill for our junior jumpers 10 to 14 years old.

Pee Wee hill for the tykes. All the steps up in ski jumping are big. If you don't have the guts to go up go home.

The distance recorders box. All data is backed up with pencil and paper, including the judges who use a score card and a pencil and a computer entry. All paper and computer print outs are checked by the Competition Secretary to make sure they match before the official computer results are released. The out run workers are finishing up raking.
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The judges style points are recorded on this box, It goes directly into the computer. The judges also complete a back up paper card. There are five style judges. The high and low judges scores are tossed out by the computer and the remaining three are added up along with the distance points to give a final score to each jumper.
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The judges can't see the score the others are awarding. Each judge has a window and data entry system.
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Calculation station. Where all the data comes in to be recorded on the results sheet. Includes distance points, score from each judge, wind speed, wind direction and skier speed.
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The Vikings are restless. The bonfires have started. We don't need no stinking burn permit. No alcohol is allowed inside the City limits but all our rednecks pay no heed. Beer, beer,beer.
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Take off speed is recorded for each jumper.

Start Light. They can't get on the start bar when the light is red, have 20 seconds to get in the start gate once the light turns yellow and 10 seconds to start once the light turn green. If they don't they are disqualified.

Knoll and landing hill wind speed and direction indicators.

The style judges getting ready to score the tournament.

Some of the jumpers warming up before they climb the scaffold. Their suits are strictly regulated. They have to all be made by the same company, fit like a glove, and have a belt inside the suit that prevents the jumpers from pulling the suit down between their crotch so they get more surface area, like a flying squirrel. Fabric thickness can be measured with a caliper and the amount of air that can be blown through the suit is measured in KPH per square meter of fabric. Fabric thickness can be checked by the Technical Delegate or Assistant Technical Delegate at any time. Ski length is based on a formula, a % of the skiers height. Binding mount location is strictly controlled to control the amount of ski that is forward of the foot. Violators are disqualified. World Cup jumpers have their custom made suits replaced every 50 jumps because the air opens up the pores and lets more air through. This inhibits the ability to fly. World Cup and most national teams replace their skis after 50 jump because they loos their pop. The skis are very light and built like helicopter blades wit titanium plates under the binding to prevent the jumpers from pulling the bindings out of the skis on take off. Waxes cost anywhere from $40 for 3 ounces to $160 a gram. You have to have a lot of different waxes to be competitive. I used to buy kilos blocks of wax when my son was jumping. Now a days Every sport is expensive.

The climb up to the scaffold from the landing knoll.
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The "Chief of Takeoff" has to have access to the "bump" so he can keep the track straight and free from drifting snow. Here is his ladder.
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The Chief of Takeoff has to blow out the snow from the track. Then a for runner goes down to grease it up. Our for runner was 45 years old. His body says to quit but his mind puts a giant grin on his face each time he goes off so he can't quite retire, he keeps finding ways or reasons to jump.
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If you are a jumper you never see the landing from the in run. It looks like the take off ends at a cliff all the way from the top right up to when you go for it. You only see the landing once you clear the knoll. It's kinds of a weird sensation. The spruce bows are to let you know where the track is and where the bump is. At speed everything looks white and blends together so you need a little contrast, especially for night jumping. The landing has spruce bows scattered all over it so you can get some idea of where it is t gauge where you will land, otherwise everything is jus a white blur.

The climb to the start gates, 1 to 26, 1/2 meter apart. If you have poor or slow conditions you have to go higher to get the speed to about 55 MPH. Our take off speed meter lets the Technical Delegate determine which gate they will start from.

Final inspection of the take off by the Chief of Takeoff just before the start of the tournament.

Chief Distance Recorder, Chief of Takeoff Speed, Start Timer and Technical Delegate in the control tower.

Click for the video. This is all I got to see all night. As the Competition Secretary I recorded the decisions made during the tournament that changed things like start gates etc. I sat and recorded start times and decisions and collected all the paper copies and made sure that the computer entries matched the paper. A thankless job if I ever did have one.

After glow tail gate party with fireworks.
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Dec 4, 2006
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Nice writeup and pictures. I grew up skiing in McCall,ID and the Little Ski Hill had 2 Nordic jumps. The "A" jump was 50-60 meters and was last used in the 70's. The 30 meter jump,"B", is still used today by MiteyMites. I remember coming very close to hitting the flats when I was that age. Sadly the "A" was blown over in the 90's.
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Oct 3, 2015
Denver, CO
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Nice! Really cool to be a part of something that has been in existence for so long! Is that the same location that Sammy C used for his recent film?

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Nice! Really cool to be a part of something that has been in existence for so long! Is that the same location that Sammy C used for his recent film?

Copper Peak is 135 miles west of here, but still in Michigan's UP. Copper Peak was the only Ski Flying hill in the western hemisphere but it has been decommissioned by skiing's international sanctioning body because it is much too small. They have recently made all the other ski flying hills in Europe to a bigger standard. The record at Copper Peak is 158 meters. They can go 150 meters on the new design of the next size hill down, the olympic large hill. Our hill at Ishpeming is an olympic normal hill. The current ski flying world record is almost 100 meters farther than at Copper Peak. The Flying Hill at Obersdorf in Germany was upgraded for this years Ski Flying World Cup and they spent 13 million euros on the hill alone, not including the rest of the complex. Obersdorf was the place where the agony of defeat film clip form ABC's Wide World of Sports was filmed. A lot of people were hurt at that tournament and today they cancel ski flying if there are slight winds or snow because it is much too dangerous. Today it is much safer because of the new hill design and cancellation standards. Because of the V style speeds can be reduced form 85 miles an hour on the old hills to 75 now a days. Here is a clip of the new Ski Flying Hill at Obersdorf (not the biggest one in the world) followed by a clip of an entire 2017 World Cup Ski Flying round at Obersdorf.
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