The Eau Claire Ski Club/Flying Eagles can look back upon another successful international ski jumping tournament at Silver Mine Hill with satisfaction.
Although the weather was not ideal with Friday night’s snowfall and lower than average temperatures both nights, hearty spectators hovered around wood fires around the hill and in the heated TV-13 hospitality tent to watch a great show.
“The jumping was fantastic, it was a high quality tournament,” said Dan Mattoon, the man behind the club’s resurgence. “There were long jumps Friday in the snow and the tail wind Saturday didn’t seem to bother the jumpers much.”
Slovenian Nik Fabijan stole the show Saturday with jumps of 93 1/2 and 94 meters (307 and 308 feet) while Norwegian Jorgen Madsen won Friday with rides of 92 1/2 and 93 12 (304-307 feet).
It was exciting for the crowd, estimated at close to 5,000 for the two nights which was well below last year’s warm-weather gathering.
“That’s understandable,” said Chief of Competition Paul Jastrow. “But the crowd really got into it with the jumpers going down the hill.”
As usual, much of the credit has to go to Zach Jastrow’s hill crew, which had to battle snow in the track Friday but ran off Saturday’s competition like clockwork.
“There were challenges with the snow slowing the track but they got that under control,” said Jastrow, “and Saturday went really well as the hill crew worked hard to keep conditions ideal without some of its veteran crew.”
Pat Hamler was reported as to having wrenched his back during the preparations earlier and Dan Wold was missing for the first time. That’s in addition to the loss of Dave Tomten and Dino Amundson in recent years.
But as they say in all sports, there’s always somebody to step up.
The 5-Hills tour and U.S. Cup series continued Sunday night at Minneapolis and heads to Ishpeming, Mich., Tuesday with Chicago Norge next weekend before finishing at Westby the following weekend.
“The packed schedule gives those who travel or youngsters in school four meets in a week instead of spreading them out over several weeks,” Jastrow said.
One of the highlights was the impressive showing by the young Eagles, who made huge strides over last year.
“They have really come along and make the future really look good,” Mattoon said. “We will continue to watch them through the rest of the 5-Hills. It’s an exciting time with the new 55-meter at Mt. Washington getting ready.”
In was unfortunate that 16-year old Landon Lee had to sit out Saturday with a knee problem. He had jumps of 81 1/2 and 84 1/2 meters (264 and 278 feet) Friday and with jumps anywhere near that would have won Saturday’s Open Male class. He will be back.
Logan Gundry, 16, was a pleasant surprise, turning in a 77-meter second round jump Saturday to take second in his class.
Stewart Gundry, 13, was sixth in the U16 class Saturday and Carter Lee, 14, uncorked a 75 1/2 meter jump on Friday to take eighth among 25 entries.
They are our next generation of international and Olympic hopefuls.
And while the youngsters took a big leap, 17-year old Andrew Urlaub, their leader, reached a milestone when he scored Continental Cup points in Japan over the weekend.
In Friday’s competition at Sapporo, the Flying Eagle unloaded a 111-meter or 364 footer on his second jump after a 90-meter first jump to vault into 29th place good for two points. He was only three spots behind Olympic jumper Casey Larson, who was 26th with rides of 104-94 meters.
Saturday, Urlaub had a ride of 116 1/2 meters (383 feet) but placed 38th, one spot behind Larson, who had a jump of 122 1/2 meters (402 feet).
Decker Dean, the third member of the U.S. Team from Steamboat Springs who won at Silver Mine a year ago is struggling and finished last in the events.
Meanwhile, Ben Loomis continues to struggle with his jumping and finished 47th in the Chaux-Neuve, France Nordic Combined Triple despite a 24th-ranked cross country run. Taylor Fletcher led the U.S. in 29th place.
At the Hill
Minneapolis’ Joe Berens, the 57-year old Noriaki Kasai of Silver Mine, fell as the first rider in Friday’s trial round and withdrew..”He wasn’t injured and helped us out the rest of the tournament,” said Jastrow. ... Matt Gundry reports that the new steel tower rising atop Mt. Washington, measures 100 feet high, or just 46-feet short of Silver Mine. ... Maxim Glyvka, the promising 13-year old out of Chicago who set the Mt. Washington 30-meter record two weeks ago and placed eighth in Saturday’s U16 class, said that Vladimir Glyvka, who went over 300 feet but fell at Silver Mine in the 1990s, is his uncle and not his father as previously reported. ... The lone member of the original Flying Eagles of the 1930s to enjoy the Silver Mine weekend was Tom Fletty – at 90 years of age. ... Say it ain’t so: There is word that Mark McFarlane, the popular voice of Silver Mine from the tent at the bottom of the hill, has worked his last tournament. ... Something new has been added. In an experimental basis, a laser at the hill flashed the distance of each jump on the lower landing..they say it is being used at NFL games. ... One-time Flying Eagles coach Jim “Chopper” Wahl presented us with a can of Kipper Snacks and said it came from Lake Placid, where he stunk up the room with them during the 1980 Olympics. ... Dan Mattoon has served as a judge and official at Lillehammer, Norway, Steamboat Springs and Park City so far this winter and will head back to Norway in late February. ... And if you missed the Long Standing Jump event Saturday, you missed some excitement. After winning the tournament, Fabijan gobbled up the jackpot with a ride of 96 1/2 meters or 317 feet. Friday night winner Madsen went 95 (312) and Nick Mattoon wasn’t too far back at 91 (299).