CURATOR’S NOTE- Justin Koski is Executive Director of the US Ski and Snowbard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, MI. He pens a beautiful tribute to both Ishpeming and ski jumping, below. To see more on the Hall, click here.
Executive Director | U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
This is a story of ski jumping as a way of life, a tradition, a community and a culture. From my office window, I see a bluff that once housed Homicide Hill – a popular jump in the 1910’s. I can walk to the window and look southwest to see Last Bluff which also had jumps coming off two sides of it used for competition in the 1920’s. If I go upstairs and look southeast I can see the very tippy-top of the 90-meter Suicide ski jump. I am in the heart, soul and birthplace of organized skiing in America. Do you know where I am?
Growing up here I tried jumping ONCE. I admired jumpers like Rudy Maki, Coy Hill, the Bietalla’s and many others. I listened to these guys tell ski jumping stories after golf for hours some nights when I was young. They were local legends with international accolades. They were extraordinary athletes and kind, gentle souls with a fierce competitive bone hidden deep down in each one of them! You didn’t have to jump to be embraced by them, you didn’t even have to ski. It didn’t matter what you did as long as you competed hard and drove for one thing – winning.
For over 65 years, my family has piled in the car and headed out to Suicide for the Annual ISC Ski Jumping Tournament. This year marks the 132nd annual event making it the longest running annual outdoor sporting event in North America. Today jumpers fly farther and the gear is a lot different but the community support and engagement has never wavered. We are a community who will forever embrace our jumping culture and keep the tradition alive. We support what we love. We are Ishpeming!
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