Ford Sayre – Norwich, VT
World record ski jumping distance, 1985- Planica YUG / ’84, ’88 Olympic teams
REMEMBERING SPIKE FULTON
50 years ago, Jeff Hastings and his father, Paul, showed up in our living room with a pair of jumping skis announcing “Mike, we would like you to try ski jumping.” I had never considered the sport for myself but agreed to attend the next Ford Sayre practice.
Ford Sayre’s ski jumping coach, Spike Fulton, welcomed me with a warm smile, looked over my Northland jumping skis, low back boots, and bindings, and sent me up K20 inrun. Why I wondered, is there only one start at the TOP of this jump? GULP. I vividly recall looking down at what appeared to be a high cliff, wondering “how is it possible that Jeff and his younger brothers, Brad and Chris, launch themselves into the air without hesitation?”
15 terrifying minutes of encouragement from the Hastings brothers (as they continuously lapped me), and I reluctantly crept out of the start, wobbled down the inrun, plopped onto the knoll, and, to my surprise, didn’t crash.
Later that winter, coach Spike stapled a newspaper photo to a light pole next to the K20 takeoff. The caption read, “World Record Jump, Manfred Wolf of East Germany, 165 Meters, Planica”. While I cannot find a picture of Manfred’s famous jump online, I recall studying the newspaper photo, amazed. Manfred soared (in a hat) and held his skis perfectly together, high in flight, his mouth wide open. I thought, “That is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Where is Planica?”
Fifty years later, I am beginning my 13th year coaching the Ford Sayre Ski Jumping program, after taking over from Chris Hastings, who generously donated his time for years, as Spike Fulton had when we were kids.
Last week, Hanover High School Ski Jumping Coach, Tom Dodds, and I completed renovations to Ford Sayre’s K20 inrun. For the first time in half a century, kids trying the sport can use starts ½ way or ¾ of the way up the inrun instead of anticipating the cliff from the top of the jump. ###
CURATOR’S NOTE- Mike didn’t mention was that in 1985 he would jump that same hill as Manfred Wolf in the newspaper photo- Planica, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)- and set a world distance record. To see a video, click here