EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (January 12, 2020) – This week some of America’s best up-and-coming ski jumpers will head to the midwest to compete in the Five Hills Tournee against an international field in eight competitions, at five unique venues, across four different states.
The Five Hills Tournee will begin Jan. 17-18 in Eau Claire, Wis., then move to Minneapolis Jan. 19. It then heads north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a Jan. 21 competition in Ishpeming. The series then hits the Norge Ski Club outside of Chicago Jan. 25-26 before wrapping up in Westby, Wis. Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
While the individual events are among the oldest in America, the Five Hills Tournee began eight years ago. It was the brainchild of ski jumping leaders Rex Bell, Alan Johnson, Danny Warner, and Dan Mattoon who were looking for a way to add professionalism and marketing value to USA ski jumping. It immediately became the stomping ground for the country’s best young jumpers as well as talented Europeans who wanted to experience ski jumping in the heartland of America.
Ski jumping had its origins in America across the midwest, with over a dozen clubs active in the early 1900s. The National Ski Association, now U.S. Ski & Snowboard, was formed amongst ski jumping clubs from the midwest during the annual tournament in Ishpeming, Mich. in 1905.
The Five Hills Tournee rose out of the national US Cup series, thanks in part to Eau Claire leader Mattoon who was able to convince sites to consider creative scheduling to condense the entire program into just a few weeks, making it easier for athletes to do the entire tour.
“The Five Hills Tournee segment of the US Cup is an incredible series which blends a long and vibrant history of ski jumping in America with our top domestic series focused on delivering high quality jumping to our fans as well as offering elite competition opportunities to our athletes,” says USA Nordic Executive Director Bill Demong.
The name and format for the Five Hills Tournee was inspired by the most famous tournament in ski jumping, the Four Hills Tournament in Austria and Germany. Much like the European Four Hills Tournament, the Five Hills Tournee consists of many ski jumping competitions within a short span of time. Instead of traveling through the Austrian and German Alps, the Five Hills Tournee sends jumpers through America’s Heartland: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan.
Athletes will find thousands of spectators cheering them on from the bottom of the hill – crowds unlike anything in America. With a century-old tradition, the midwest has hardy, true ski jumping fans. Part of the tradition and fan excitement is due to history. Most of the Five Hills Tournee locations have been holding ski jumping competitions since the early 1900’s. Ishpeming, as an example, has held its annual ski jumping competition every single year since 1887 – making it the longest running sporting event in the United States.
Ski Jump History
Eau Claire, Wis.
Ski jumping has a long tradition in Eau Claire as the Flying Eagles Ski Club dates back to 1886. The inrun tower of the ski jump has an interesting past behind it. Before the Olympics in 1936, it was set up at Ogden Dunes, Ind., for the Olympic Trial competitions. The jump was then moved o Rockford, Ill., then becoming the Hendrickson Hill K61m jump in Eau Claire. Later it was set up at the new Silver Mine Hill. In 1969, Silver Mine Hill was opened as a 70 meter jump. Over the years the jump has been converted several times and now has a K-point of nearly 90 meters.
The Minneapolis Ski Club has been jumping at Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington since the 1930s. Across town, the St. Paul Ski Club came together even further back in 1885. The jumps in Bloomington were rebuilt in January 2002, making this the newest Five Hills enue. The venue in Bloomington includes summer and winter jumping which presents incredible potential for athlete development considering the surrounding population over 3 million in the greater Twin Cities area.
Ishpeming, Mich. (Suicide Hill)
The first tournament in Ishpeming took place on February 25, 1882. Since 1887, the annual ski jumping competition has taken place every single year, making this the longest continuous sporting event in the United States at 133 years running. The jump got its name (Suicide Hill) when Walter Anderson was injured in 1926 after a fall. At first, the new name which was created by a local journalist, wasn’t very popular at the ski club. However, the name has since become adopted by all. At the annual tournaments in 1904 and 1905, club leaders from around the midwest organized the National Ski Association, now U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
Fox River Grove, Ill.
Fox River Grove is about 40 Miles northwest of Chicago. The Norge Ski Club is among oldest continuously running ski clubs in the United States (founded in 1905, first jump in 1906), created by Norwegian immigrnats in the Chicago area. The Norge Ski Club is famous for producing world class ski jumpers. In fact, three of the four 2018 Olympic Ski Jumping Team members are from the Chicago area (Kevin Bickner, Casey Larson, and Mike Glasder).
The Snowflake Ski Club was founded in 1922 by Norwegian immigrants and people have been ski jumping there ever since. Over the years, the hill has hosted many international Continental Cup level events. This is the largest hill in the Five Hills Tournee boasting a hill record of 130 meters set by Norwegian Fredrik Bjerkeengen in 2008. A nine-hole golf course was built to aid in funding the annual ski jumping tournament. It is billed as “The Only Ski Jump in the World with a 9-hole Golf Course at Its Base.”
Beckett Ledger (Lake Placid, NY)
Eemeli Tainio (Finland)
Gunnar Gilbertson (Steamboat Springs, CO)
Juho Ojala (Finland)
Nejc Topris (Slovenia)
Nik Fabijan (Slovenia)
Nike Loytainen (Finland)
Anna Hoffmann (Madison, WI)
Cara Larson (Barrington, Ill)
Jillian Highfill (Park City, UT)
Rachael Haerter (Park City, UT)
Sam Macuga (Park City, UT)
Five Hills Tournee Schedule
Jan. 17-18 Eau Claire, Wis. (night), HS 95 Eau Claire Silver Eagles
Jan. 19 Minneapolis (night), HS 78 Minneapolis Ski Club
Jan. 21 Ishpeming, Mich. (night), HS 96 Ishpeming Ski Club
Jan. 25-26 Fox River Grove, Ill., HS 77 Norge Ski Club
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Westby, Wis., HS 118 Snowflake Ski Club