This weekend’s Norge Summer Ski Jump Tournament offers a rare chance to see an extreme sport live as competitors, including a few Olympic hopefuls, take on one of the largest ski jump facilities in the country.
Event organizers say many don’t realize the magnitude of the 27th annual event, which draws top competitors from throughout the Midwest, and the ski jump facility itself in Fox River Grove.
“It’s a great facility to have,” Norge Ski Club member Gene Brown said.”I think some people that even live here locally are unaware of the ski jump and wouldn’t think of a ski jump in this suburban area. That kind of astounds people.”
Ski jumpers will compete Sept. 29 in a Junior Tournament, while at least 25 competitors will jump Sept. 30 as part of the the K70 Big Hill Tournament.
Gates open at 11 a.m. both days at the Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road. The competitions take place on the club’s five hills.
Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy food and live entertainment, along with what has been trademarked as “the orginal extreme sport.”
“It’s one of the iconic Winter Olympic sports,” Brown said.
“You get to see somebody flying some 230 or 240 feet in the air in a controlled way, basically off a cliff, where you can hear the wind coming off their bodies, where they’re using themselves as a flying wing,” he said. “It can be pretty dramatic and interesting, something you don’t expect to see in the burbs.”
Among this year’s competitors are at least three athletes with the potential to make the U.S. Olympic team, he said.
They include Cary native Mike Glasder, a Norge Ski Club member, as well as Brian Wallace of St. Paul, Minn., and Christian Friberg of Minneapolis, Minn. All are members of the USA Ski Jumping team.
Sanctioned by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the Fox River Grove jump allows competitors to accumulate points and standings that will be considered as the U.S. Olympic trials approach in late 2013.
“You’ll have three athletes in town that have a real shot at being on the Olympic team,” Brown said. “They’re fighting on every event. They’re really competing. Their results do make a difference.”
Aside from that, the Junior Tournament offers visitors the chance to see how skiiers get started, he said.
The club’s winter tournaments typically attract roughly 8,000 people, but fewer come out for the summer event even though the warmer weather makes it more pleasant for spectators, he said.
“You don’t get to see extreme sports like this very often at all locally,” he said. “It’s a great chance to come out and see it in person.”
NORGE SUMMER SKI JUMP TOURNAMENTWHEN: Junior Tournament at noon Sept 29; K70 Big Hill Tournament noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 30 (gates open at 11 a.m. Food available. Live entertainment).WHERE: Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road, 3/4 mile north of Routes 14 and 22, Fox River GroveTICKETS: $10 for adults through Sept. 28 at area merchants, $11 online or $15 at the gate, free for children 12 and younger accompanied by a parent.INFORMATION: 847-639-9718 or www.norgeskiclub.com