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Sunday at the jumps

February 3, 2010 - Ron Deuter
I’m sure many fans were disappointed that the ski jumps were cancelled on Sunday, especially after the perfect conditions experienced for the jumps the day before. If you were among those standing in the parking lot at Pine Mountain that afternoon, it probably didn’t seem all that windy. But the big American flag atop the hill didn’t lie.

Holding a media pass for the annual event, I decided to drive up to ski house during the delay to see how the jumpers were riding out the hold. The first thing I noticed when I stepped out of my truck at the top of the hill was just how windy it was up there.

Tournament officials, who were glued to their instruments monitoring the weather by the second, told me they look for the breezes to be eight miles per hour or less during a jump. To execute a safe jump, you need 35-40 seconds at or below the safe threshold. During the hour and a half I spent up top, the winds never dipped below 12 mph, and were most times gusting much higher than that.

Rather than cancel right away, officials kept delaying because the forecast indicated a break in the wind. Unfortunately, the break never came.

I can tell you no one was more frustrated with the delay and eventual cancellation than the jumpers themselves. Most crowded around inside the ski house, ready to hit the slide at a moments notice. After a while, some made their way outside to try to stay loose. As I wrote in my recap for the paper, some played soccer, while others found sleds and horsed around on back of the hill.

Part of the frustration among the jumpers seemed to stem from how much these guys really like jumping here. They all talk about how the atmosphere and energy of the crowd here is unlike any other ski jumping venue in the world. The jumpers enjoy putting on a show for us.

But at the end of the day, safety must take precedence. While not a popular decision, the right call was made to scrap the jumps. Besides, best I could tell, I didn’t see anyone having any less fun down below.


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