View of the K70 Ski Jump from our KLiMATA tent
Fox River Grove, Illinois – Tucked away near the river, soaring high over the treetops and disrupting the suburban skyline, sits a massive wooden ramp used solely for launching skiers through the air at speeds up to 60+ MPH. The ramp is owned and operated by the Norge Ski Club, the oldest, continuously open ski club in the United States. Norge Ski Club was established in 1905 by a group of Norwegian men who decided Fox River Grove was the perfect location for their sport. Here they erected a 60-meter tower, and have been flying off of it ever since.
A 70-meter tower was purchased in 2004 to replace the old tower, and several smaller ramps have also been installed. The smaller ramps are ideal for young ones and beginners, however, children under 10 still launch from the 70-meter ramp. This year on January 27th and 28th, the Norge Ski Club hosted its 112th annual winter tournament. A historic weekend for the club as they celebrated 3 Team members who qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics. KLiMATA was honored to be one of many sponsors for this event.
There’s a First time for everything! When KLiMATA Blogger Ben Heroux experienced The Norge 2018 International Winter Tournament, the last thing he expected was to be one hundred feet in the air with some of the greatest Ski Jumpers in the world.
I had been to Fox River Grove many times, and seen the ramp from quite some distance, never did I expect a massive traffic jam, or to park over two miles from the event. Walking with the crowd to watch our skiers fly through the air, the atmosphere was that of a music-festival or football-game.
We made our way through the tailgaters, purchased our tickets (a decorative button) and headed into the snow-valley arena. The view of the ramp from the bottom will make anyone dizzy. Watching the ant-sized humans drop from the top of this tower and launch themselves through the air is quite the spectacle. More impressive is that the skier could be as young as 6, or as old as 67.
We posted up at the KLiMATA tent, conveniently located at the base of the lodge where athletes gathered. It was thrilling to interact with teams from other countries (and flattering to see them instantly slap KLiMATA stickers on their gear!) As comedic announcers kept the audience informed on what was happening with the jumpers, I was lucky enough to bump into a Veteran Club Member distributing pizza to volunteers. He asked if I would help him take pizza to the folks working at the top of the jump. I think it took me a millisecond to answer, Heck. Yes.
The several story trek up the tower was not as easy as the Skiers made it seem, and it must be downright difficult in snow boots. It was icy, rocky, and very steep. The view from the top was incredible. Dizzying doesn’t even cut it, I’m not afraid of heights, but the prospect of flying down this steep incline was very intimidating. Those feelings were quickly replaced by feelings of awe and excitement when the first “long-jumper” skied down the hill and off the ramp.
The shape of the skier as they fly off the ramp is very particular: Straight as a board, leaning forward, and spreading the skis into a “v” shape with the point being near the feet, while angling the tips to the sky. The jumpers turn themselves into human wind-foils to increase resistance and add more lift to the skier as they soar through the air, thus increasing their landing distance. My position allowed me to see how much they strain to hold that stance in the air, AND you can actually hear the wind ripping at their skis. Very intense.
KLiMATA had a great time with the athletes, crew, and crowd of Norge Ski Club. We raffled off plenty of great gear and enjoyed celebrating the club’s success. If you ever get a chance to come check out Fox River Grove, don’t forget about the rare gem that is the Norge Ski Club and their amazing 70-meter ramp!
Until next time,