|FLAP ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. Clarence “Coy” Hill demonstrates the style of the early ’50’s.|
Ishpeming Ski Club
Email from Bob that accompanied this story:
Digging through some old computer files I finally came across a write-up for Coy Hill that I put together for a tribute in a local newsletter shortly after he passed away.
Feel free to use it as seen fit. Edit what’s needed. Lend credit to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, Ishpeming, Michigan
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.
“Well, I always said that others should talk of your feats or you should read about it.
But, you’re asking me so I’ll tell you…”
-Clarence “Coy” Hill, 1984 interview with Ray Leverton, managing curator
Location: U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, Ishpeming
Clarence “Coy” Hill, of Ishpeming, passed away Sunday, May 13, 2012 at his home. He was 85. Coy was inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1974 for his ski jumping accomplishments and was honored with a Lifetime Membership in the Ishpeming Ski Club and the USSA Central Coaches Association.
He was born in Negaunee on April 27, 1927. Coy started ski jumping at age four and began competing at age 10. He served in the Navy during World War II and worked as an iron worker when he came home. His love of ski jumping never diminished and he excelled in ski jumping competitions throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In an interview with Ray Leverton, managing curator at the time, at the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1984, Leverton asked, “So, you say you started skiing when you were four years old Coy?”
Coy responded, “Yes, I started flying through the air when I was four… not just as a skier. I was not a skier. I was a ski jumper.”
Winning the U.S. National Class A Championship in 1952, several other top national and regional titles, along with successful showings at international ski flying tournaments in Europe, Coy made his mark as a ski jumping athlete.
“Ski jumping was my life,” he stated during an interview in the documentary Winter Wonderland: Michigan’s Golden Age of Skiing. “To fly through the air on a pair of skis…, the sensation cannot be put into words. It’s the next perfect thing to flying like a bird, except the skis are your wings,” he explained.
One of his career highlights came during a multi-day competition held at the Los Angeles County Fair in September of 1952 in Pomona, California. “The longest recorded ski jump tournament in the history of the world, seventeen days of competition,” Coy stated during the 1984 interview with Leverton. An entire ski jump tower along with a landing hill was constructed of scaffolding. Crushed ice was packed on the in-run and landing prior to each day’s tournament. He competed against several members of the U.S. Olympic ski jumping team and was crowned the overall champion and also landed the longest jump of the event daily. Overall he took 10 firsts, three seconds, a third and a fourth with two nights being exhibition.
Coy’s contributions went well beyond his years spent flying through the air. As a ski sport builder he dedicated his life to the sport of ski jumping by coaching the local youth and building the jumps at Suicide Hill Ski Bowl. His leadership in the Ishpeming Ski Club was a source of inspiration for all club members. He vigorously pressured the entire American ski jumping institution to take up new international standards for ski jump construction and landing hill profiles.
He was instrumental in the construction of the current Suicide Hill jump scaffolding that was built with a small army of volunteers, a hand winch and a gin pole. Upon completion and dedication of the new jump on February 16, 1972, he was the first rider to take flight.
Coy Hills’ gruff voice and stern eyes will be missed at the ski jump hills. His sincere smile and nod of approval will always be remembered by those who put the time and efforts to keep the ski jumping culture alive at Suicide Hill Ski Bowl.
In the 1984 interview with Leverton when talking about what it takes to be a ski jumper Coy said, “If it’s our job, no matter what it is, to be good you sacrifice something. You spend time at it. You want something you got to be hungry. You’ve got to have lust. That doesn’t mean we have to be mean or anything else. Just have to be hungry. You got to want it more than the other one if you’re going to win. You’ve got to want something to win it.”
“Oh yes, I’m bragging. I was strong. I loved it. I spent a lifetime at it. If I missed a day of practice I thought it was a sin. If I didn’t ski I ran or went and worked on the hill. I loved it. We didn’t have the programs we have today. You get on the U.S. Team or something you get a sponsorship or stuff like that. We didn’t have that. It was personal sacrifice.”
Coy Hill in 1984 interview with Ray Leverton
Coy was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1974. To see his USSHoF bio, CLICK HERE
|DARE ME? Coy Hill in an undated photograph.|