Lake Barrington, IL
Norge Ski Club
“Ski jumping, what a weird niche sport!” That’s what I said to myself in January 2021 while the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions were still in place here in Illinois.
I was sitting at home with two young boys who were not able to do their “regular” indoor sports like soccer and swimming. I branched out and started looking for outdoor options to burn some of their endless energy. That’s when I came across the Norge Ski Club. I sent an email and a few weeks later the boys strapped on skis and hit the 5-meter landing hill. We knew nothing about Ski Jumping or Nordic Combined but we loved the friendly faces and inviting atmosphere at the Norge Ski Club.
Fast forward to the winter season 2021-22 and we thought we’d try a few tournaments in the Central division. First up was the Flying Eagles tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This would be our first tournament with both our boys who were in the U6 and U8 divisions. Many of our ski jumping friends had assured us tournaments were fun and the kids would love them.
WELL…let me tell you about that first tournament!! The weather had been pretty nice on the days leading up to the tournament, but the weekend had other temperatures in mind for us. Tournament morning was -28℉ with wind chill in Eau Claire. The kids were freezing, I was freezing, and we were trying to navigate how these ski jumping tournaments worked.
Suddenly, I had one child lying in the snow crying he was too cold to move and the other saying he couldn’t wear his jumping suit because it wasn’t warm enough. I threw my hands in the air and told them to put on their thick snow pants and winter jackets because ski jumping suits were for professionals. It wasn’t worth the argument when my eyelashes were frozen to my face, and I couldn’t feel my fingers. This was a trial by fire situation. I just kept thinking to myself “What in the heck kind of a sport did I get us into?!” Thankfully the tournament ended successfully with both our boys on the podium. All the numb fingers and complaints of cold were gone. Everyone had a blast.
I guess the Eau Claire tournament didn’t scare us away because we finished out the winter season successfully by traveling to places in the Midwest I didn’t even know existed for more ski jumping fun. The exploration of new places and the broad smiles on our kids faces had us all hooked.
When USA Nordic promoted the summer solstice camp in Alaska my interest was piqued. After convincing my husband this camp was a great idea (and could also be turned into a family vacation), we were on a plane to our first ski jumping camp…in Alaska! The coaches, Zak and Natasha, were so patient and my boys learned A TON!
Digging in deeper, “Why not add Utah to our list for the summer?!” I thought. My boys got a ton of jumping practice/coaching at the Springer Tournament, and they loved working and training with the USA Nordic National Team. They were growing as young athletes.
We hit a few more local Central Division camps before the summer and fall seasons ended. Biweekly trips to the Norge Ski Club helped to keep our summer packed. Our crazy summer was worth it! We were ready to do it all over again.
It has been a whirlwind year and a half. The boys are hooked on this sport and we have fallen for all our new “ski jumping family” friends. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
The ones of them wearing bibs jumping on plastic is from the Norge fall tournament 2022.
And the one of them on snow is the Iola, WI tournament.