|5 GENERATIONS! A century old legacy that began in Norway continues today- Hunter in Park City with “Papa” Mike.|
Norge Ski Club
In the early 1920’s a young man named Magnus Lien, fresh off the boat from Norway, made his way to the Duluth, MN ski club to continue his ski jumping career which started in Norway. He then moved a little farther south and began jumping at Norge Ski Club around 1927. By the time the 1960’s arrived, Magnus’ jumping days were over but he and his Norwegian friends would attend all of Norge’s events while toting his grandson, Mike Gibson (current Norge Ski Training Center President). Magnus would share one of the three jugs of hot chocolate that he and his Norwegian friends would prepare and bring along. The other two Mike was not allowed to taste as they were “adult” only beverages. The years went by and Mike grew up very familiar with Norge and its’ hills.
In 2001, Mike’s first grandson was born, Hunter Cole Smith. In 2006, Hunter went for the first time to watch a competition at Norge with his Papa Mike. He stood in awe at these “flying humans” coming off of such a huge jump. When they announced that it was possible to “learn to fly”, Hunter told his Papa he wanted to do it! Three days later Hunter was at his very first practice, suiting up, putting on borrowed skis and flying a few feet off of the 5M hill. He saw a vision of what his future would look like that night!
He began traveling to state competitions in 2007 with his papa by his side at every event. He was bringing home gold medals at nearly every event. He was setting hill records on the 10M and 20M whenever he got the chance. He and his papa were bringing to life the vision and legacy that his great-great grandpa started in the early 1920’s!
In the fall of 2008, Hunter was only 7 years old and competing regularly on the 40M hills, getting ready to start training on Norge’s 70M hill. He had a goal of being the youngest kid to fly off of the 70M at Norge. On a brisk September morning his dream was tested however. He took a typical jump off of the 40M but due to a freak landing, ended up in a horrific accident. Flight for Life was called to the scene where he taken to a nearby hospital suitable for trauma. He ended up with a broken arm, the loss of some teeth and with something called a LeForte #2 fracture of the face. Thank goodness for the use of helmets and goggles as they most definitely saved his life, along with his guardian angels that day! The very first night in the hospital Hunter woke up crying in the night saying that he would not be able to be the youngest jumper to go off of the 70M now. It was at that moment we all knew this sport was much more than just a fun thing to do, but most definitely this little boy’s future!
The winter season of 2008 was upon us, and Hunter was back on the hills, after only 12 weeks from his accident, setting over 10 hill records throughout the Midwest! He jumped the 70M at the age of 9 and has competed at the Jr. Nationals for the past two years. He plans to place in the top 15 this year at the Jr. Nationals in Steamboat! Hunter has been homeschooling since 2012 to accommodate his traveling schedule and continues to get straight A’s in all his work. He has a goal to be on the Olympic team for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. He has been through a lot in his short 8 years jumping, but his spirit is strong, his mind is resilient and his vision is as ever-present now as it ever was! His name will surely be one that is not forgotten as he continues to pursue his dreams and carry on the legacy that his great-great grandfather started nearly a century ago!
|Hunter floats one in Park City.|
|MAGNUS WAS HERE- Photo from Chicago Tribune showing 20,000 spectators watching Birger Ruud win with jumps of 172′ and 181′ on January 16, 1938.|