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Alpine ski jumping comes to Salisbury

SALISBURY — This weekend,the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) begins its 2012 schedule with the Winter Carnival, featuring an exhibition of Gelande, or Alpine ski jumping.Gelande is a new event for SWSA. It is a form of skiing in which the athletes ski jump off a tower — using regular downhill ski equipment.SWSA President Ken Barker said Gelande is a whole different game from the usual ski jumping at Satre Hill in Salisbury. The jumpers do not use the tracks cut in the ski tower ramp that guide the jumper into the middle of the landing hill.“They don’t know exactly where they’re going to take off,” Barker said.Another new event, with the potential for considerable humor, is the human dogsled race, in which five people pull a sixth on a sled over a .5 kilometer course.The rules: No wheels on the sleds, and the person riding must be a minimum of 200 pounds.Barker, taking a break Thursday afternoon after making snow at Satre Hill, said that someone had called asking if he could enter his ice fishing sled.“Fine, whatever, as long as it doesn’t have wheels.”The half kilometer course will have hills and turns, but it won’t go into the woods. Depending on how many teams enter, the race might have to be done in heats.The mild and almost snowless winter (the October Surprise notwithstanding) has meant that the snow-making efforts have been opportunistic. Barker said the snow crews don’t even start firing up the two electric snow making machines until the thermometer dips to 26 degrees F.So when the conditions are right the teams swing into action — and keep going. “Last week we did 70 straight hours.”The snow-making machines get their water from on-site wells.The process is expensive — the machines use a lot of power — but Barker said it’s a big improvement over the old days, when ice shavings were trucked in from the rinks of area private schools if nature didn’t provide sufficient snow.Barker said that last year’s Junior Olympics really helped put SWSA and Salisbury on the ski world’s map. “We had jumpers from all over the country because of the new design of the jump tower and the Junior Olympics, and people really enjoyed the experience.”The human dog sled race will be held around 2 p.m. on Sunday after the gelande event ends. Teams are encouraged to decorate and customize their sleds. For details or to register a team, email Ken Barker at kennethsbarker@gmail.com. NASCAR Dave and his Sunday in the Country Food Drive crew will be staffing the cook shack, and Lagunitas Brewing Company, official sponsors of USA Ski Jumping, will offer beer for sale.Admission to all events is $10 for adults; children 12 and under are free.And of course SWSA’s annual Jumpfest will be held Feb. 10 to 12. For more information about all these events, go online to www.jumpfest.org.

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