High School Jumping Showcases What is Great About Our Sport
Many of you may know that New Hampshire still has high school ski jumping, and it gets a lot of attention because it is the only state in the country where this still exists. However, with State Championships having just been held and won by Kennett High School this past weekend, I would like to highlight why high school jumping encapsulates so much of what is good about sports and ski jumping in particular. So here we go.
- It is all about fun! The atmosphere at the top of a jump at a high school meet is awesome! It is relaxed, everyone is cheering on the other teams, and they recognize that what they are doing is pretty unique and an experience they will hold with them for the rest of their lives. Most data says kids stop doing sports because it is not fun, so I love that these jumpers have so much fun.
- Many of the athletes do not start jumping until they get to high school, which shows that you do not have to start ski jumping at age 6. You can start at age 16 and still be safe, have fun, and fly nearly thirty meters through the air. I think you can start jumping at age 36 and still be safe, but that is a discussion for another day.
- High school meets are team events, which means the top four skiers from each team are scored to determine the overall winning team. This creates a great sense of team unity and friendly rivalry between teams and also a feeling of doing something for more than just yourself, in what is often a very individual sport.
- There are male and female athletes and a winner for each, however, for the team portion there are not enough women to have a separate team class. Because of this schools can take their best six athletes to States, regardless of their gender, and this year, Kennett’s top six (the overall winning team) included a women, which is awesome!
- Many, if not most of the jumpers also compete in other skiing disciplines, with alpine being the primary one. Most experts agree that kids should be multi-sport athletes well into their teen years, and at USA Nordic we believe that skiing in multiple disciplines makes you a better athlete. A lot of these kids also compete in Skimeister events which include alpline, jumping, and cross country, and more and more clubs are bringing this back, which I think is awesome!
- These athletes gain a feeling of ownership of their hill which is unmatched by any team that plays on a manicured grass field or varnished wood floor. Often the hills these teams compete and practice on are maintained primarily by the team itself, with some volunteer help (thank goodness for volunteers). It is a testament to their dedication to the sport when you can get high school kids to work outside shoveling and packing snow for hours at a time, just so they can fly. The skiers from Kennett worked on the hill all Thursday, skied in alpine States all day Friday, and then jumped Friday night in States. Wow!
- Lastly, this is all possible because of the coaches who give so much back, without much recognition, so that this cool tradition can carry on. Now giving back to the sport without much recognition is something that is universal to ski jumping clubs all across America, not just high schools, so thank you to all the people involved in clubs. But this article is about high schools, so thank you to High School Coaches Tom Dodds (Cooper’s dad), Morgan Stepp, Chip Henry, Kathleen Doyle, Rick Bragg, and Dave Smith.
To conclude, the vast majority of high school jumpers will never jump before or after their high school years, but in my mind this does not diminish high school jumping at all. Those few years means they have joined a community that is so unique. And some will move beyond high school jumping. This year Sean Maloney, AJ King, and Dennis Morgan qualified for the Eastern Junior National team and will be headed to Norge next week. The East is trying to create more of an overlap between high school and club jumping, which is great because it means more opportunity to fly and have fun, which is what it is all about!
I know multiple things mentioned here are not necessarily unique to high school, but I think that high school jumping does a great job at showcasing why ski jumping is something we all love, and I wanted to point that out. I will get off my soap box now 🙂
Congratulations to Chip Henry (the Kennett Coach) Sean Maloney (boys winner) and Sabin Mitchell (girls winner who is a 9th grader and this is her first year jumping). I would also like to congratulate Carter Wilcox, who won the Gene Ross cup which goes to the “rookie of the year.” Gene was the former ski jumping coach at Plymouth who passed away, and he was always known for taking athletes who had never ski jumped before and turning them into ski jumpers over two to three years.
Full results from the state meet can be found at usanordic.org/results
By: Jed Hinkley