Area ski jumping tradition still going strong

The thrill of watching brave athletes sail off the lip of the scaffolding and into the cold February sky at Suicide Hill has been experienced for more than 125 years, and will be repeated again this evening.

The 127th annual Ski Jumping Tournament will get under way at about 6 p.m., with competition to follow.

Suicide Hill has been the venue for the tournament since the mid-1920s, but ski jumping was a part of the culture of the Ishpeming area since the 1880s.

Sponsored by the Ishpeming Ski Club, which formed in 1887 as the Nordeen Ski Club (changing its name in 1901), formal tournaments were begun in February 1888 and have continued ever since.

The first competition on the new Suicide Hill was held Feb. 26, 1926, according to the club’s website at www.ishskiclub.com.

Although the equipment is more sophisticated and technique has been fine-tuned to enable jumpers to fly greater distances since those early days, the sport is basically the same – glide off the jump and see how far down the landing you can go before touching ground.

This evening’s event will offer some of the top jumpers in the U.S., too, as well as ones from Canada, Finland, Norway and Slovenia.

To help keep spectators warm, there will be a bonfire and a heated building offering warmth, as well as concessions and merchandise sales.

When the competition wraps up, there will be a fireworks display in the cold, dark sky over the hill.

Tournament buttons for admission cost $10 each in advance and $15 each at the gate, with kids 12 years old and younger admitted free of charge.

There’s still time to buy buttons in advance at the following locations: the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce, Wilderness Sports, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, Elaine’s Place, Jasper Ridge Brewery, Jubilee Foods, Congress Pizza and Buck’s Restaurant in Ishpeming; Super One Foods and Midtown Bakery in Negaunee; and at Down Wind Sports and Sports Rack in Marquette.

The ski club works hard to keep the 127-year tradition of ski jumping at Suicide Hill going, and we hope the community comes out in force this evening and supports those efforts.