Steamboat Winter Sports Club
Steamboat Springs, CO
Nico is an 8th grader in Steamboat, CO who wrote this story as a school assignment. Coincidentally, his teacher is Kandise Gilbertson, spouse of renown ski jumper/coach, Chris Gilbertson. AKA- Mrs. Gilbo. It’s good to have the teacher’s ear on this stuff.
The Big Hill
Once upon a time on a trip to Norway, I was in the beautiful small town of Lillehammer. My jumping team and I were here to practice on the Olympic ski jumps. Our little cabins we stayed in were about ⅔ of a mile from the jumps. The ski jumps were looming over the town in its big arena at the top of the mountain.
Today was the day, the big hill day. We were warming up in the flats with some ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and insprit. It was nice and foggy that August day so it was a bit chilly out. The locker rooms were little carriages with chairs and hangers. We got dressed, grabbed our skis, and walked down to the chairlift. I went up the lift alone.
I thought to myself, “ This is really happening! I am jumping a big hill in Norway’s Olympic ski jumping arena. Not many people in North America have had the opportunity to do this.” While riding the chair I reflected back to the day before…we all did our usual warm-up of games, stretches, and explosives. Then we did our first few jumps. I was feeling it that day. I was going so far, but toward the end of the session, I was really pushing off the bar. I wanted a new PB that day. My PB so far was 96 meters on Steamboat’s 100. On one certain jump, I was perfectly on-time at the takeoff, I had a great push and held my flight as long as possible. At the bottom, the US national team was helping coach us that day, and Decker Dean told me that I just went 98 meters!
As I went to go get another jump he said, “ Now the challenge is to go even farther,” he said with a grin, “ but land it with a tele, like it is your last jump in the World Cup to win it.” And so I did. I had an even better takeoff, great direction, and height over the knoll, as well as the fattest tele ever at 102 meters.
I shook my head back into the present moment…this morning, Coach Garrett asked me the most exciting, but most terrifying question ever. “I will give you the choice,” he said, “I don’t let many of my young athletes do this but you either get to jump the big hill today or in two days from now. And let me remind you that in two days there is a possible rainstorm, and we may not be jumping at all.”
“I would like to jump it today,” I said eagerly, yet trembling.
“OK, remember to lock it up and stay on top. It is a lot of speed so be careful of that. Good luck.” he said cautiously.
Now out of my thoughts, I got off the chairlift. I saw my teammates getting ready at the top. I started walking up the steps to bar 14, my coach wanted me to go from a lower bar on my first jump.
At the top, I said to myself, “I will get a new PB today, a much larger one than 102.” It was a very foggy day, you couldn’t see much of the town or the massive river that was flooding from all the rains. I slipped my suit strap over my boot, then slid my boot into the toe piece and clipped my heel piece in. Next, I got the safety cord around the small screw connected to my boot. Then I put my yellow and gray suit on and waited for my turn to go. I had been dreaming as a little kid to do this, watching older athletes jump big hills. This was a dream come true. Finally, it was my turn, I slowly slid out on the bar. Shaking, I tapped my heel piece, lightly tugged my safety cord, and checked my boots. I couldn’t believe I was jumping on a World Cup large hill, where the best in the world have competed.
Being so nervous I yelled, “YUP!” to say I was ready. The track looked like it was a mile long. Next thing I knew Coach Garrett whistled and threw his arm down to flag me. I pushed off the bar as nervous as I have ever been. The speed felt like you were going faster than an F1 car at max speed. Then I went through the curve and off the takeoff at one million miles per hour. Now over the knoll, my skis hit against pressure as the wind picked up. I was flying! In a tele, I land around 85 for my first jump. At the bottom, I took my skis off. I stood there shaking, I looked up the hill to see what I just accomplished. “Yes!” I yelled. Then, for the rest of the session, I went from a much higher bar and increasingly went farther and farther each jump. On one of the last jumps of the session, I got so much height over the knoll, so I held it as long as possible and stomped a tele at my new PB. 124 meters, “Let’s gooooo”. I am glad I sent it then, I may never have the opportunity ever again….but I sure hope I do!