Friday, February 10, 2012

Ski Jump

A group of people on a ski hill.
Early ski jump and toboggan hill, ca, 1910
(Iconog. 1604)
When Fred Harris, founder of the Dartmouth Outing Club, pitched his idea for a winter sports club in a 1909 letter in The D, ski jumping was definitely on his mind. Having jumped at Montreal's winter carnival, he envisioned thousands of spectators coming to Dartmouth to watch jumping. In fact, ski jumping was an event at the very first Dartmouth Winter Carnival, on a hill constructed of pine limbs and snow.

A poster for ski jumping at the Winter Carnival.
Ski jumping poster 1931
Poster collection
Dartmouth's big jump made its debut 90 years ago, at the 1922 Winter Carnival. It's 85 foot tall steel trestle was constructed by the Boston Bridge Company for $5,000, and the landing area abutted the golf course's 13th green. Almost immediately, Harris' dream came true. For decades, Dartmouth would be the center of east coast ski jumping, drawing the huge crowds he had imagined. (Harris probably did not imagine the occasional conflict between golfers and winter sports enthusiasts over damaging the fairways when plowing snow for more parking for ski jump spectators!)

A drawn ski jump in profile.
Ski jump profile, ca. 1923
(Dartmouth Outing Club Records, DO-1 (8852)

A ski hill in summer.
Ski Jump and the 13th green, ca. 1925
by Paul J. Weber
(Ski jump photofile)
Over the years, the big jump was enlarged and improved, drew jumpers from all over the world, and hosted many intercollegiate championships. In 1980, the NCAA discontinued ski jumping as a sport. The following year, Dartmouth was the only winter carnival with ski jumping on its schedule, and the competition was designated the Eastern Collegiate Jumping Championship.

Ski jumping remained active at Dartmouth for many years even after the NCAA's decision, but in the spring of 1993, the decision was made to dismantle the big jump, its silhouette having graced the golf course for 70 years.

Slide show of Dartmouth Snow Sculptures past.

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