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96 Years of Ski Jumping (and There’s Curling Too!)

Ski Jumping

This cold weather can’t possibly continue for much longer  (seriously), which bodes well for the Salisbury Winter Sports Association Jumpfest Weekend, Feb. 11 to 13.

This is the 96th year for the jumps at Satre Hill, which is just off Main Street in Salisbury, Conn., behind LaBonne’s grocery store. Wear warm clothes and sturdy ice-safe shoes, but be prepared to have a thrilling good time.

Ski jumping is a tradition in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. It is perhaps a little bit like curling: A winter Olympic sport that doesn’t necessarily attract as many viewers as, say, figure skating and downhill slalom.

You can see curling at the Curling Club in Norfolk, Conn., most weekends in winter, https://norfolkcurlingclub.org/. It’s indoors (wear a mask) and it’s warm, fun and friendly. There are comfortable chairs and a bar. Everyone will be happy to explain what’s happening on the ice. If you want to try curling yourself, there’s an open house with instruction Feb. 12.

Ski jumping is outdoors and it’s cold, but as compensation there are bonfires and convivial warming beverages and the chance to put on all of your warmest clothes all at once.

Unlike curling, if you are older than about 10 you will probably not want to try this sport yourself. But it’s exhilarating and fun to watch, even if you (like me) hate to be outdoors in cold weather.

The ski jumps are extremely social. Chances are that you will see everyone you know. Children play in the snowbanks. Lots of people bring dogs but it’s not actually a particularly safe place for pets; they definitely need to remain on their leash.

And speaking of dogs, every year on the Friday Jumpfest opening evening there is a Human Dogsled Race: Teams of about five competitors build a sled of some kind. One human rides the sled, the others pull and see who can make it around the short, snowy racetrack the fastest. This year’s race is on Friday, Feb. 11, and will begin sometime after the Target Jumping Under the Lights, which starts at 7 p.m.

In the regular competition on Saturday and Sunday, the jumpers collect points for style and technique and distance. On Friday night, just for fun, they try to land exactly in the middle of a target painted onto the snow.

The competitions are held on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to about 3 p.m., with practice jumps in the morning from 11 a.m. to noon. The eastern division Junior National Team will be named after Sunday’s competition.

Admission to the Friday night events is $15. Admission for the Saturday and Sunday competitions is $15; children 12 and under can come in for free. There is a snack shack with hot chocolate, hot dogs and more.

 

Find out more at www.jumpfest.org and look for the special Jumpfest publication here.

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