A landmark in the world of winter sports is celebrating a big birthday this weekend.
The Harris Hill Ski Jump in Brattleboro, Vermont had to cancel Friday night events marking its hundredth anniversary, to focus its attention on making snow for two days of competition Saturday and Sunday.
The machine-blown snow will replace what this week’s rain and warmup wiped away.
"A little challenge — but we’ll make some snow tonight and recover from the rain and the warmth," said Jason Evans, who was working Friday morning and afternoon to set up snowmaking equipment he said would be running that evening. "I’ve seen the pictures of all the past years, and they’ve had these same challenges."
The Harris Hill Ski Jump in 2022 is marking a century of hosting many of the top athletes and rising stars in the sport. Dozens of competitors are coming in this weekend from as far away as Alaska and Europe.
Click here for details on the event, which opens its gates at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Organizers of this weekend’s centennial celebration told NECN & NBC10 Boston that each of the U.S. athletes competing in ski jumping at the Winter Olympics in Beijing has, in the past, jumped in Brattleboro.
"It’s really neat that this small town here in Brattleboro has an Olympic-sized ski jump," observed Spencer Knickerbocker, who said he grew up attending the one-weekend-a-year jumps as a spectator.
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Watching others jump inspired Knickerbocker to compete, he remembered — going for distance, style in the air, and clean landings.
"When you hit it just right and have a far jump, it does feel like flying," Knickerbocker explained. "And the lift you get pushing against you as you fly through the air — it feels unlike anything."
Dana "Zeke" Zelenakas was on the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team, and has stayed involved in ski jumping ever since.
"I think I was in the seventh grade when I first jumped Harris Hill," the retired athlete recalled, adding that the Harris Hill Ski Jump’s long history is a testament to the hard work of many proud volunteers here.
"It’s unique," Zelenakas said in an interview Friday with NECN & NBC10 Boston. "I mean, how many places in the world have a 90-meter ski jump that they can host an event every year? And for 100 years? That’s pretty awesome."
As the landmark begins its second century, it believes the sport is poised for growth in the U.S., based on what organizers are seeing from club teams around the country.