The Nansen Ski Jumps
Ski Jumping has returned to the North Country after an absence of 37 years! We now reference the “jumps”, plural, as there is a newly minted “Little Nansen” K39 ski jump lurking in the shadow of the “Big Nansen.” Don’t let “Little” fool you though, it is an impressive sight and coaches and jumpers alike have raved about it after experiencing it at our recent events. We also have created a K10, “Li’l Nansen”, for our beginners.
Here Are Our Jumps:
"The Big Nansen" ski jump built from 1936 to 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, and 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 and culminated in “A Last Leap” on the morning of March 4th, 2017 symbolizing the return to action for both her and the Sleeping Giant.
The focus since that day has been to restore the jump to contemporary standards and to hold competition there once again. In 2019 the jump was added to the National Register of Historic Places and fundraising efforts, coupled with a $250k grant award from the Northern Border Regional Commission, has allowed the design to be completed and work to begin. Significant progress includes the landing hill being completely reprofiled and the false knoll concrete retaining wall being constructed.
More work needs to be done, including the tower and a judges stand so our fundraising efforts continue. A pandemic, and the logistical and inflationary forces that have accompanied it, have challenged us, causing an adjustment in our timeline with a new target goal of 2023.
"The Little Nansen" ski jump, built this past fall, 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 is back!
“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 during our Eastern meet. 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"