|JACKS of ALL TRADES, MASTERS of SKI JUMPING- Wally Wakefield in 2006 with fellow Masters Hall of Fame inductees (from l-r) Corky Denisson, Wally, Timo Denisson, and Ed Brisson.|
St. Paul Ski Club
A Spill of the Strangest Kind
Many, many years ago, Lloyd “Snow Ball” Severud was in the CCC Corps that had a camp just to the west Washburn, WI. Severud went onto become a 5-time National Veterans Class ski jumping champion. Among other things he was also the National Team coach. At the CCC camp there was a great cabin that was erected to house the Corps members who were stationed at the camp. Also on the site was a large underhill for a ski jump.
Snowball used to bring National Team members to the site for training purposes. After Snowball was no longer National Team coach the Central Division moved onto the site and a smaller ski slide, about 55 or 60 meters was erected for training purposes. There was also an all natural 30 to 35 meter hill alongside the larger slide. During several years when the Central Division held training camps at the site, I attended as a coach. At the end of each camp a ski jumping meet was held. I believe it was even listed as a sanctioned Central Division contest. During one of these meets the coaches, along with the camp attendees, and other Central Division skiers were entered in the meet. At one of these meets the temperature hovered just around 32 degrees. It was an overcast day with the temperatures around freezing high humidity that made the snow turn to glaze ice wherever one stepped. Such was also the case on the slide. It was a day that a track could not be kept on the inrun. A skier would come down and the track would turn to a wet, slippery glaze and it would not hold for the skier that followed. I got the flag and started down the slide. As I approached the takeoff I pressed into the jump. But my skis slipped sideways and out from under me. As I pressed into my jump, I fell.
As you leave the slide there is a slight moment when you lose your bearings until you come out over the underhill and things open up on the scene below. It happened however that this time when I caught my bearings I became very confused. I wasn’t seeing the usual underhill. It turned out that when I fell on the takeoff I never hit the ground. I missed the end of the jump. When I finally took note of where I was, I was sailing through the air and what I was seeing were the tops of the trees along the side of the underhill. It was almost too late when I finally figured it out. But at the last moment I was able to get one ski down and underneath me. I took a pretty good spill, but I figure I was lucky. It could have been a lot worse had I not opened my eyes and got that ski underneath me.
Such is the experiences of a ski jumper. One never knows what they might encounter on such a day as contending with no track on a warm, but slippery day. These days jumpers don’t know about “setting a track”! With the “cutting machines” chiseling the track in on a slide, no longer is that a necessary evil. But then today’s ski jumpers no longer can recall what it means for someone to be called a “cranker”.
Wally’s St Paul Ski Club bio- CLICK HERE