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Mike Probst floating one down the hill on the old Mt. Valhalla ski jump at a 1963 Central training camp in Washburn, WI.
Stevens Point, WI
I grew up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. We had a 20 meter and a 5 meter ski jump in our local Iverson Park. I got interested in ski jumping by fooling around after school at the area. I used to just ski down the underhill. After a while I was jumping on the small jump. There were about five adults who skied there. The main one was Tom Hagen who was originally from Eau Claire. He was quite a jumper in his younger days, winning the Eau Claire memorial trophy 3 times. Many years later Larry Berg would go on to pass Tom Hagen in the number of trophy awards. Tom Hagen was one of the nicest people I have ever met. Another person who always would give me advice was Ingvar Arneson Sr. (Ole) who was the main person at the Tri Norse Ski Club in Wis. Rapids. He also had been a fantastic ski jumper for many years. Bobby Immens from Norge also helped me when I was at tournaments.
I ski jumped around our central Wis. Junior circuit for quite a few years. When we got to ski in larger tournaments like at Mount Washington in Eau Claire I met other skiers of my age that were really good. The one that I would like to mention is Billy Bakke from Madison. He was fantastic and also a nice person. Sometimes those two attributes do not go together. He had both of them.
When I was 15 years old, I jumped the senior hill at Iola. This was a 45 meter hill about 23 miles from my home in Stevens Point. We would go to Iola after school and get in 2 or three jumps before it started to get dark.
In 1963 (17 years old), I was invited to the training camp at Washburn, WI. (see picture). This was the old Mt Valhalla ski jump that had been around since 1930. It also had not been used for many years. A group got together and decided to use it again. It had a small scaffold at the top which then turned into a natural ground in-run and back to a wooden structure for the takeoff. It had a huge landing hill. This must have been one of the larger jumping hills back in the days. I suspect that the original upper scaffold was probably much taller too. Even the best jumpers at the camp would only go about two thirds of the way down the hill. It was at that first training camp that I really got to know some of the skiers there that I had not really known before. Guys like Ron & Don Jacobson from Madison, Peter Mickelson & Lyle Swenson from Westby, Eldridge French & Jay and Jerry Martin, from Minneapolis, the Denisson brothers from Saint Paul, Sig Malvick & Torleff Sundt from Norge, Dave Hicks, Ken Harkins & Gene Kotlarek from Duluth and others. I cherish meeting these people and others whose names I do not remember. I went back to the Washburn training camp the next year too. The third year the training camp was held at Chester Park in Duluth, Minn. This also was a fine experience.
Coaching: The first two camps were coached by Snowball Severud and others. The last camp that I attended at Duluth was coached by Ed Brisson, and other coaches from the twin cities area.
I never went to any more training camps but I did go to all the tournaments in the Central division until about 1973 when my first son was born. After that I would go to some of the tournaments that were easy to get to. I did ski occasionally until I had a bad fall at our jump at Wisconsin Rapids. I didn’t break anything but I could read the message on the wall and I quit ski jumping. I still downhill ski at Granite Peak in Wausau, WI. I also go cross country skiing at a local facility.
I would also like to thank some more of my ski jumping friends, Dave, Korey (deceased), Ingvar Jr., Bill, and the whole ski jumping community in central Wis. I also want to mention Charles Salmela from the Duluth Ski Club. He moved to Stevens Point, WI where I live, to teach art at our local high school. We had a lot of good times together.
Thank You & Best Wishes to each and every one of you who I have known through ski jumping!!!!!
Stevens Point, WI, 72 years old
Any comments or questions please contact me. email@example.com