SWSA promise: World-class jumpers and snow on the slope this weekend
SALISBURY — Yes, there will be snow for the annual Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) Jumpfest Weekend, Feb. 10 to 12.“We lost a lot of the snow we’d made for the Winter Carnival in last week’s heatwave,”said SWSA President Ken Barker, referring to the warm temperatures on the first day of February. But volunteers have been out nightly since then, operating the snowblowers that need temperatures in the neighborhood of 20 degrees to make a frosty coating for the jump and landing hill.There’s plenty of the drama on the slopes, as Olympic athletes swoosh down the 65-meter jump in an effort to fly farther than the other competitors. But for Northwest Corner residents, especially during these recent unseasonably warm winters, February brings some drama of its own as fans of the annual ski jumping competition at Satre Hill wonder if this will be one of the years when the jumps will be canceled. For the record, it has happened, but not in a very long time.Barker is confident that his team of hardy volunteers will get plenty of snow on the slopes in time for Jumpfest. And he’s equally confident that the all-silver SWSA cup will not be won this year. “The cup was won last year by Andrew Bliss,” Barker said. To take the coveted cup home, a jumper must be the victor in three Salisbury Invitationals (held on the Saturday of ski jump weekend). Last year Bliss won for the third time and left with the cup and title. There is now only “one person with one leg on it,” Barker said. “That means it will be a minimum of two years before the cup goes away again.”It isn’t just the chance at a trophy that brings jumpers from all over the East Coast to Salisbury for the jumps, though. The jumping on Sunday is the U.S. Eastern Ski Jumping Championship; for the first time ever, the Sunday jumps will also be the finals for the United States Ski Jumping cup. The USA Cup Series event will feature senior and open class jumpers from around the United States including the Utah, Steamboat and Midwest divisions. It will serve as a final qualifier for USA Cup jumpers to participate in the FIS (International Ski Federation) Cup in Brattleboro, Vt., the following weekend.Winners of that event will win a summer trip to Europe to train.“This will be a larger and definitely as talented and beyond a group as we’ve had here,” Barker said. “Even more so than for last year’s Junior Olympics.”In 2011, after upgrading the jump tower, Salisbury was able to host the Junior Olympics for the first time ever.“It had the consequence we hoped it would,” Barker said, which is that it attracted jumpers from all over the country for the 2012 jumps. “The jumping community is not overwhelmingly large, and it doesn’t take long for word to get around,” Barker said.And the word, year after year, from the jumpers is that Salisbury is one of the nicest places in the world to compete. Consistently, Olympic champions in post-jump interviews cite the crowd support and the charm of the hill as elements that bring them back year after year. Tickets to watch the ski jumping are $10 per day. The fun begins Friday night with target jumping under the lights. In regular ski jumping, the skiers try to achieve as much distance as they can. In target jumping, they try to land in a target drawn on the landing field.After the target jumping, SWSA will hold a human dog sled race. The first one ever held here was just two weeks ago, during the SWSA Winter Carnival. The sled racing was such a hit that it will be offered again this weekend (for information on how to sign up, go online to www.jumpfest.org).To help keep the cold at bay (assuming the temperatures are cold that night), there will be a chili cookoff on Friday night at Satre Hill from 6:30 p.m.Off the slopes, the 11th annual ice carving competition will be held on the lawn outside the Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. The Snow Ball Dance at the new firehouse is Saturday night from 8 p.m. to midnight (admission is $12).Sunday morning begins with the pancake breakfast at the ambulance garage, across from the town Green and The White Hart Inn. Held as a fundraiser by the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Squad, breakfast is from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.Jumping begins on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Practice jumping begins at 11 a.m. and ends at noon. Admission for adults is $10 but children under 12 enter free. Money raised from ticket sales helps pay for equipment, entry fees and travel costs for youngsters who compete on the Salisbury Winter Sports Association team. Donations are accepted. This year, the racetrack at Lime Rock Park is offering a bonus to anyone who donates $25 or more to SWSA. Donors will receive a full weekend ticket to the Lime Rock Season Opener featuring Trans-Am & the Sunday Royals Car Show, from Friday, May 25, through Sunday, May 27.To donate to SWSA and get the free tickets, call Don Breslauer at 860-309-1366.