MICHAEL HOLLANDFord Sayre Ski Club, USST, ’84 and ’88 Olympian
Three Decades of Summer Jumping
Beginning in the 1949, “chainsaws cut blocks of ice from the Cascade Lakes,” explains Jay Rand. Saw dust insulated the blocks while stored in a shed at the top of the K48. On the 4th of July, the blocks were fed through an old grinder and guided through coal chute trays. Ski jumpers and volunteers worked the ice down the hill using homemade pushers. When “enough” ice reached the end of the chute system, they would unhook a tray and move up the hill.
“Sig Evensen raked the ice for years”, explains Jay. “After spreading the ice, Sig added ammonium nitrate which kept the landing surface incredibly hard throughout the competition.”
|Preparing blocks of ice to crush. Photo gathered by Jay Rand from Lake Placid Public Library.|
“I tore up my ankle on one jump”, explains Jay. “At the top of the hill, while preparing for my next ride, I decided not to jump – the only time in my career I ever walked down. Jim Page remarked, ‘you do have a brain after all.’ Art Devlin refused to ever jump in this event.” Lake Placid’s Independence Day Crushed Ice Competition continued for 33 consecutive years until the Olympic complex installed plastic matting in 1982.
Greg Windsperger explains, “I was excited to jump on the 4thof July. I’m glad I did it but once will be just enough! I was beyond my career but thought I gotta do this. It went fine. Mary (Greg’s wife) was with me at the time. I was visiting USST jumpers in the East as I had just been named head coach. When Mary saw the hill she said, ‘Are you nuts?’ In the competition, I got a cut above my eye and had to get a couple stitches.“
Jay Rand was a pro at crushed ice jumping! ” If you were a drifter in the air you were in trouble,” says Rand, “the hill was cobby and bumpy. They spread the crushed ice on the landing as best they could but there didn’t seem to be a lot of concern for making it smooth. We didn’t care that much because we were excited to jump on the 4th of July. You had to get down fast after landing or you’d cartwheel your way through the hay bales.”
|Dennis McGrane (shown from 1983 Springer Tournee) learned the hard way that jumping off of one foot could cost you.|
Dennis McGrane competed in the final crushed ice event on July 4, 1981. Dennis explains, “In the competition, I didn’t think to jump evenly with both legs. When I came over the knoll I was heading left (completely away from the crushed ice). I wondered ‘should I put in a landing?’ I did try but I stuck and had a total blowout that really hurt. I stopped before reaching the end of the R2 as first aid workers ran toward me. I had just been fitted with a temporary front tooth but decided not to jump with it that day for fear of swallowing it. When the first aid workers reached me I joked, ‘Oh no, I lost my front tooth’ and began looking around in the hay.”
|The view as you clear the knoll: narrow, short, dirty strip of crushed ice (melting) and alot of hay.|
|Jim Holland preparing to soar circa 1980. Mick Holland photo.|
See more crushed ice jumping photos from the Lake Placid Public Library at this link (thanks Jay Rand!)
|A long ride… Mike (l) and Jeff (r) in Vuokatti FIN, summer of 1983.|
This year I donate to USA Nordic in honor of Jeff Hastings who pulled me into the sport of ski jumping. Jeff was an inspiring role model from elementary school through his final year as a member of the U.S. Ski Jumping Team when he placed 4th in the Sarajevo Olympics and 4thin the overall world cup.