As we advance our efforts to grow the sports of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined in the United States, there a vast array of activities and areas of focus that we can and will be addressing, but there is one key element at the base of it all: Snow. We have heard from many clubs across the US that bad snow years kill their recruiting efforts, and dampen the excitement of athletes who have developed an interest in the sport if not ending it all together. It is because of this that we are so excited to have more and more facilities with the capacity to make snow. You probably just read a Story from Karen Compten about the adventures of securing their new snow gun through a partnership with the Flying Eagles Club in Eau Claire, WI, and if you didn’t please sign up for the Story Project newsletter.
The newest member of the snowmaking family is the Ford Sayre Ski Club in Hanover, NH. This feat is due to the unbelievable amount of volunteer hours put in by Mike Holland. Mike, a former National Team member, Olympian, and world record holder, is now the coach and engineer extraordinaire at Ford Sayre (as an Andover Outing Club alumnus I am very jealous), and this project would not have happened without his perseverance. On a recent phone call with Mike, I learned a bit about what it took to get snowmaking. The project included multiple pumps to get from the pond to the pump house and then pump up on the hill, securing a pump trailer and heating the trailer, changing the power, finding a high power air compressor, and the list goes on and on ending with purchasing four guns.
The snow guns were purchased from HKD Snowmakers, which is based out of Natick, Massachusetts. Mike said they were great to work with, and the president of the company even came out to help as they fired the guns up at Oak Hill for the first time. But he was not the only one who came to help. The snowmaking crew included Mike of course, but it also included Tom Dodds, a long-time supporter, parent, and volunteer at Ford Sayre, Jere Linehan, a former Nordic Combined skier who currently is a Hanover Fire Fighter and runs the Strafford Nordic Center, Jeff Hastings, who needs no introduction but has been so integral to the success of Ford Sayre, USA Nordic, and USA Ski Jumping before that, and finally, Don Cutter who ran the Dartmouth Skiway for many years, and who’s son Ryan is a former jumper.
It takes a community, and we cannot thank all the volunteers enough, but because of these specific folks and many more, jumping will happen this year at Oak Hill, with our without mother nature’s help (as long as it get’s below 25 degrees).