Sam Arquit grew up in the outskirts of New York City, in Westchester, New York. As a child, like many, Arquit sought thrill. He liked to go fast and he liked to be airborne. “I built a lot of sketchy ramps in my childhood,” says Arquit laughing.
A few weeks ago in Park City, Utah, Arquit tackled a new thrill- ski jumping. Just how does a nineteen-year-old freshman at St. Lawrence, who hasn’t skied since the age of ten get into such a predicament? Peer pressure. But not just any kind, peer pressure from an Olympic Gold Medalist.
Arquit’s father is good friends with USA Nordic Executive Director Bill Demong. Arquit found himself at dinner with Demong in Lake Placid, New York and they discussed ski jumping over Mexican food. Demong suggested he try the sport. “A month later I was sitting at the top of a real ski jump,” said Arquit.
Arquit showed up to the Utah Olympic Park with a lofty goal. Most kids who grow up ski jumping reach the 60 meter jump after 4-6 years of jumping. Arquit wanted to jump the 60 meter before his flight left the tarmac back to New York. This gave him one and a half days.
The first challenge Arquit ran into was slowing down on the massive ski jumping skis, “Since I don’t ski, I snowboard, my biggest problem is stopping at the end.” He quickly learned how to handle the skis. At least enough to start on the ten-meter jump. The nerves were present, even on the ten meter. However, Arquit knew better than to give in. “After you do it once, and know you are going to be okay, it becomes so much easier.”
Arquit became more comfortable with every jump, his confidence was soaring. In the video, he can be heard yelling, “Just did the twenty (20 meter jump), easy, let’s go!”
From the twenty meter, he progressed to the forty meter. Every new hill gave him those same nerves. Every time, he conquered them. It became apparent that he was ready for the goal he set out for himself when this whole crazy idea began- the 60 meter.
Arquit and Demong left the small hills behind as they walked down the road to the Olympic stadium, which holds the 60 meter, 90 meter, and 120 meter jumps. This was monumental. That same day Arquit had started with all the young kids, now he was leaving them behind.
The larger the hill, the more speed that is present- simple physics. Demong wanted Arquit to get comfortable with this speed. So before jumping the 60 meter, Arquit skied down the landing of the 90 meter reaching up to 80 km an hour. He handled it well, meaning it was go time.
Arquit climbed the stairs of the 60 meter scaffolding and gazed down the old jump. An old jump used over the years to help progress Olympians, World Champions, and now to give a kid from Westchester, New York the greatest ride of his life. “I knew that if I sat on the bar for more than 5 seconds, I wasn’t going,” says Arquit. So he let go, speeding down the track and soaring into the air. He could be heard whooping and hollering the entire way down, as if he was on an amusement ride.
“When I felt the air catch underneath me on the 60 meter and I felt like I was actually flying, that was the coolest feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” reminisced Arquit. For some of us, we search our whole lives for an outlet which hooks us. For Arquit, he found it in a one day. “I’m completely hooked, I want to go jump right now,” he exclaims for his home in Westchester, New York. Luckily Arquit’s days of ski jumping are far from over. He will spend two months in Park City this upcoming summer working at the Utah Olympic Park and ski jumping almost daily. He laughs saying, “I told my mom the other day, I wish it was June already, so I could go jump.”
He has recommended the sport to his friends. Of course, they all thought he was crazy, to which Arquit responds, “When most people think of ski jumping they think of the Olympic sized jumps, but what they don’t realize is that they can start on the small jumps and have a great time.”
“I wish I knew about the sport earlier,” says Arquit. Yet, does age really matter? Who says ski jumping can’t be a lifetime sport? A stigma surrounds ski jumping which limits its enthusiasts to professionals and children who start the sport at a young age. It’s people like Arquit who are hoping to break that stigma. We live in a world where people seek thrill biking, skiing, snowmobiling, sky diving, etc. well into the backstretch of their lives. In fact, according to studies, ski jumping is one of the least dangerous winter sports. Arquit hopes people of all ages will follow in his footsteps. “I would say to the general public if you have the opportunity to try ski jumping once, give it a shot.”
No matter where you live, if you are interested in ski jumping please send an email to email@example.com