Cary's Smith soars toward Ski Jumping Hall induction

Scott Smith’s ski jumping career has taken him all over the world.

The former U.S. Ski Team member has traversed the United States for national tournaments, lived in Europe to train and compete and visited Japan.

Now the capstone honor of Smith’s career will take him to a place only five hours away from the ski-jumping hill he grew up on. On Aug. 18, Smith, 49, will be inducted into the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame with a ceremony in Eau Claire, Wis. Smith joins 17 others in the Class of 2012, representing the sixth class in the Hall of Fame’s history.

“It’s a great honor,” Smith said. “I never thought it’d get to this point, being a Hall of Famer.”

Smith, who started training at Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove when he was 6, becomes the first ski jumper from the area to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“[Scott] had a neighbor in Cary who was into ski jumping,” said Don Smith, Scott’s father. “He went along with him to Norge ... and fell in love with the sport.”

Smith progressed quickly in the sport, qualifying for national junior tournaments by the time he was 14. Smith almost qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics, but had a “bad day” at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Lake Placid, N.Y.

He retired from full-time ski jumping after failing to make the Olympic team but got a chance to experience the Olympics four years later as a coach for the United States.

“I think I learned more about history from traveling through ski jumping than I did during school,” Smith said.

Smith, who lives in Cary, has continued to coach ski jumping and is actively involved with the junior program at Norge.

He was thankful for all the opportunities that ski jumping gave to him, including an opportunity to jump at a ski flying hill in Slovenia, which measures more than 200 meters. In comparison, the hill at Norge is 70 meters, and an Olympic-size hill ranges from 90 to 120 meters.

“To be on the biggest jump in the world was pretty amazing,” Smith said. “That was pretty cool to be able to do that.”

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