You don’t have to be a ski jumper to enjoy ski jumping, it’s the beauty, grace and thrill of watching top notch athletes float through the air that attract attention. You can get that thrill at Salisbury Connecticut the weekends of January 25-27 and February 8-10, 2013.
Winter Sport in Connecticut
When the ski industry was ‘aborning in the 1920s, a young Norwegian man named John Satre moved to Salisbury, Connecticut, and started the Salisbury Outing Club. As Scandinavians are wont to do, within a few years he and others started a ski jumping competition. From this start the Salisbury Winter Sports Association was borne.
Today the SWSA is a thriving local winter sports association heavily involved in teaching kids and families not only ski jumping but Alpine and Nordic skiing as well. The highlight of their year is the two weekends of late January and early February when they hold the annual Alpine Ski Jumping competitions (Gelande) (January 25-27) and the Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships (Feb 8-10). Admission is $10 for adults, 12 and under are free.
Alpine Ski Jumping, a different kind of danger January 25-27
Gelande, as alpine ski jumping is called, is a different kind of ski jumping from the specialized sport that one sees in Olympics competitions. Those high flyers use special long, light weight skis and other specialized equipment to add grace to their flight. Gelande, on the other hand, uses the same normal heavier skis and equipment used in all Alpine skiing, a fact that adds to the danger, and the excitement, of the sport.
The Alpine Ski Jumping event begins Friday night January 25. Saturday afternoon, January 27, the event features a Junior Alpine Ski Event from 1 PM to 3 PM. The competitions beginning under the lights on Saturday night from 5 to 7 PM. The main competitions will feature extreme skiers from across the United States, promising an exciting event.
Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships February 8-10
Some of the best Junior ski jumpers in the eastern U.S. will gather for competitions at Salisbury. The youth 20 and 30 Meter jumping competition, followed by the Salisbury Invitational Competition for ski jumpers will be held Saturday from 1 to 3 PM. The full 87th Eastern Ski Jumping Competition starts at 1 PM on Sunday. The record for the Salisbury jump to date is a jump of 231 feet.
Human Dogsled races (really!) and a carnival
I have not heard of this one before, but both weekend of the celebrations feature a dog sledding race in which humans replace the dogs on a three tenths of a mile sledding race. The competitors in the race get to decide what their sled will look like and what sort of costumes they will wear. The weekend of January 25-27, the race will be held on Sunday January 27 starting at 2 PM. On the February weekend plan to make it to the Chili Cookoff at 6:30, Friday night, February 8, followed by the Human Dog Sled Race and ski jump warm-up practice runs.
For city dwellers who have not experienced a real small town community event, this festival is the place to go, possibly even for both weekends! For the fullest schedule, however, plan on the February weekend for the Pancake Breakfast with the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Squad from 8 to 11 AM at the fire house at the intersection of Routes 41 and 44. Then go to the Scoville Memorial Library at 38 Main Street for the Annual Ice Sculpture Competitions. After the Saturday events plan on the Snow Ball ($12) at the Lakeville Hose Company 9 Sharon Road, in nearby Lakeville, starting at 8 PM this year featuring Treetop Blues with Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult fame.
Where to go and how to get there
The annual competitions are held on Satre Hill, named for John Satre, off Indian Cave Road in Salisbury, a short distance off of Route 44. Directions from Boston and New York are available online. For lodging information and information on the area contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site.