No snow, no problem.
In the spring warmth, young ski jumpers are still taking to the sky on a makeshift jump in southwest Calgary.
“I get to fly for a moment,” eight-year-old jumper Logan Steele said.
The neon orange netting and plywood jump is Ski Jumping Canada’s temporary solution to a big problem.
“We don’t want to see this sport disappear in Canada due to the lack of facilities,” Ski Jumping Canada’s Nik Petrov said.
The group has been without a home since January. Winsport closed the jumps and the Nordic training facility at Canada Olympic Park in the fall of 2018.
For the young athletes, the thought of giving up jumping was gutting.
“My baby brother passed away,” 10-year-old Juliet Streutker said. “I wanted to go ski jumping.
“I feel like my baby brother now flies with me from heaven.”
Many senior jumpers have made the trek to Canmore, Utah or Europe to continue their training.
For beginners, Ski Jumping Canada looked to European models of summer jumps for a solution.
Using $500 worth of hardware materials, they built a small jump on Turtle Hill, gradually building it bigger as the athletes progress.
“We need the small hills to keep the future of ski jumping alive in this country,” Ski Jumping Canada president Todd Stretch said. “As you look towards the 2026 [and] 2030 Olympics, there would be a big gap and no one to participate in that.”
It takes three hours to set up the 20-metre jump for hour-long practices every week. Volunteers take it down afterward to make sure neighbourhood kids don’t hurt themselves on it.
“This project is a fraction of the cost of what it was at COP,” Petrov added. “This project we’re looking to bring to other places in Canada, as an introduction to develop the sport.”
Ski Jumping Canada doesn’t know how long it will use this jump but says a new facility is in the works, likely opening within the next three years.
“All the sports — ski jumping, biathlon, cross-country — are working together to look for a new home that would bring in all the Nordic sports in Calgary at a facility yet to be named,” Stretch said.
In the meantime, the group hopes the homemade jump could launch a future Olympian.
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