The Nansen Ski Jumps
Ski Jumping has indeed returned to the North Country and we now have multiple “jumps” with the “Little Nansen” K39 ski jump and “L’il Nansen” K10 added to the mix. ” Don’t let “Little” fool you though, the K39 is an impressive sight - coaches and jumpers alike have raved about it after experiencing it at our events the last two years. Our K10 is excellent for our beginners.
Here Are Our Jumps:
"The Big Nansen" ski jump built in 1937 is our crown jewel and, when fully restored, will host elite competitions as it did for decades. At 171.5 feet, the jump stood as the largest steel tower jump in the United States and hosted the very first U.S. Olympic tryouts in 1938. This was followed by the FIS World Championships in 1939, which attracted 25,000 spectators and was broadcast across the nation on 87 radio stations. The jump eventually hosted four U.S. National Ski Jumping Championships, a North American Championship, Eastern Championships, and numerous international competitions before holding its last event in March of 1985 - then being officially abandoned in 1988. This led to the jump becoming totally obscured by brush and trees, earning it the moniker of "The Sleeping Giant."
Fast-forward 30 years, where the work and effort of the "Friends of Nansen Ski Jump," a local group who refused to see the jump fade away, joined forces with the State of New Hampshire to work to salvage it. This effort was further galvanized by former World Champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, who, sponsored by Red Bull Energy Drink, joined the effort which included a total re-decking of the jump. Her involvement culminated in “A Last Leap” jump on the morning of March 4th, 2017, symbolizing the return to action for both her and the Sleeping Giant.
But it doesn’t stop there! The focus since that day has been to restore the jump to contemporary standards and to hold competition once again. In 2019, the jump was added to the National Register of Historic Places and a $250k grant award from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) allowed a modern design to be completed and work to begin. The work included the landing hill being reprofiled and a false knoll concrete retaining wall being constructed to meet today’s standards. We also have held numerous fundraising events that have supplemented these efforts.
More work still needs to be done, and to that end, additional funding is needed and some has been acquired, including another NBRC grant of $350k, awarded in 2022. We also have access to a “Save America’s Treasures” award, of up to $500k, which requires a 1:1 match of non-federal funds. We currently have a path to acquire about $200k of this match. We need a path to acquire the rest. Multiple fundraising strategies are being pursued.
Our progress is real, and the above challenges notwithstanding, we believe the finish line to be in sight.
"The Little Nansen" ski jump, built in the fall of 2021, is a K39-sized hill, about half the size of the Big Nansen, and is a gem in its own right. It was created as we recognized the need for the smaller jumps to provide the “bridge” to the big one, and to reestablish the sport with our youth. Using the footprint of a previously existing hill, funds were raised, professional designs completed, and, with the aid of a grant award from the Northern Forest Center, ground was broken in November of 2021 with the jump “completed” as snow was flying in December. This allowed us to hold our first jumping competition, since 1985, on January 23, 2022 followed by a NHIAA high school meet held 3 days later. Clubs from all over the East and high schools from all across the state competed and thousands of spectators attended. Ski jumping was back!
It didn’t stop there! This past fall, starting platforms and an inrun plywood deck were constructed, upon which steel/ceramic inrun track was installed, negating the need for snow (at least in the inrun). We held two highly successful jumping events in 2023 including the NHIAA State High School Ski Jumping Championships.
“The Li’l Nansen” is a K10 size jumping hill on the Big Nansen site, that was built entirely with volunteer equipment and labor in the Fall of 2021. It is our beginner hill and also held its first competition in 2022 with another event in 2023. Watching kids as young as five years old experience this sport, and truly have fun, is a priceless reward.
If you believe in what we are doing in returning this sport and culture to the area, while restoring a historic icon that can’t be found anyplace else, please consider donating or contacting us if you’d like to become involved.
Help us wake "The Sleeping Giant"