|Tom Fulton jumping for Hanover High School (NH) around 1972|
For those of you not fortunate enough to have met Tom’s coaches, some highlights from my recollections of them… for they were MUCH more than names on a page (and much more than I can give them in a sentence or two below):
BILL ROBES- An unassuming gentleman- woodworker and educator- with wire-rim glasses who always carried “Olav”, a self designed and made scale wooden model ski jumper with hinges at every joint. Bill would contort Olav to show you exactly what you were doing and what you needed to be doing. He referred to forward lean in the air as for-lagge, Norwegian I always assumed. It was rumored that he made his own wooden flying discs for kids long before Whammo “invented” (and patented) the Frisbee. Deceased.
DAVE BRADLEY- Born and introduced to ski jumping in Madison, WI, Dave went to Dartmouth and was named to the 1940 Olympic Nordic combined team though never got to compete as the games were cancelled for WW2. He went on to Harvard medical school and was an observer to the first nuclear tests in the Bikini Islands. His published account of those tests, “No Place to Hide”, was a best seller and led him to a position as an English professor at Dartmouth. He was a big believer in the telemark landing and developed the “Bradley System” for judging which graded ONLY the landing (judges were positioned down the hill). He did not suffer fools. Deceased.
ART TOKLE- Art was a little before my time but struck me as another coach who did not suffer fools. My biggest recollection of him was the piercing whistle he would give from the coaches stand the moment a jumper cleared the transition. The whistle was clear indication to the next skier that the hill was safe for the next jumper (if barely). God forbid he had to whistle a second time. Deceased.
SIG EVENSON- It would be hard to imagine a kinder, gentler soul than Sig. He always carried a heavy accent from his native Norway and a rake, and was usually found around the take-off somewhere. Sig understood that it all happened at the take-off and made sure the conditions were perfect. And he groomed much more than snow- he had a keen eye for technique and a soft, compelling way of offering advice. The quieter he spoke, the more carefully you listened. Deceased.
BERNIE DION- The Dions were famous as ski jumpers in Lebanon, NH and Bernie, as a member of this legacy, was larger than life to kids in the area. As a coach he created and presided over a huge resurgence in the sport in Lebanon. I recall hoards of us standing in long lines waiting for our turn to jump on the lighted 20m. Bernie coached us all and kept it simple: you were either “early”, “late”, or “hit it perfect”.
JOHN BOWER- John was a two-time Nordic combined Olympian (’64 & ’68) from Auburn, ME who won both the NCAA’s (1961) and King’s Cup (Holmenkollen 1968). He attended and then coached at Middlebury College. John was also the USST Nordic Program Director from ’75-’80 and again in the late 80’s (my boss in my last year of coaching in ’88). In that highly charged setting he amazed me as someone who only looked up and forward. He never rested on laurels or got caught up in the politics or the history; he skated above it all and focussed only on what he could do today to make tomorrow better.