Nansen Ski Club, Berlin, NH
Before There Was a Big Nansen
The Nansen Ski Club, is usually mentioned today in connection with its effort to resurrect the “Big Nansen” ski jump, up in northern NH. However, the Club’s legacy, is much deeper than that and extends way back to the late 1800’s, when it was first formed, and was flourishing, well before it built “the largest steel towered” jump in 1937.
Although it held many ski jumping competitions and ski races since its founding, it held its first “official” Winter Carnival in 1922 which continued for many decades. This was a multi-day, town-wide event and featured many diverse contests for both “juniors” and “seniors”, as well as sledding, skating, and tobogganing opportunities for the general public. It was a week-long celebration.
Besides ski jumping and cross country (called “ski runs”), competition was held in snowshoeing (obstacle, relay, and sprints), ski barrel races, skating (both racing and “fancy”), tobogganing, woodsman contests, ice hockey, dog sled races, and a thing called skijoring, a curious blend of horse and rider, and skier racing through the streets of Berlin. On a personal note, I did find my grandfather, Alf Halvorson, in the skijoring brackets in those early Winter Carnival programs. I’m assuming he was the “skier” as his body would not have been described as “jockey-like.”
It definitely was a golden era. Winter sports were king, especially in a town like Berlin where spring and fall were virtually nonexistent and summer was a two month period of swatting flies until the first frost.
The Nansen Ski Club-the Next generation is here. We are embarking on a mission to capture some of that old magic again. The 100th anniversary of the first NSC Winter Carnival is coming up in 2022 and we hope the Big Nansen will be ready to host a Carnival that our forebears would be proud of!