FOX RIVER GROVE – A soft snow fell throughout the afternoon on the Norge Ski Club, but around 2 p.m. the gray skies that covered the large lot unleashed heavy snow and sleet.
The two competition rounds had just finished and those who performed well enough were selected to compete in the Longest Standing competition – two jumps with results based only on distance with pride as a reward.
From the base of the 70-meter long, 160-foot tall hill, the heavy downfall of thick, wet snow shrouded the view of the jumpers who readied themselves at the top of the hill that is known in the skiing world as “the attic.”
“The conditions were pretty marginal,” said Ben Loomis while riding in a van that taxied skiers to the top of the hill. Loomis is a member of the Flying Eagles Ski Club in Eau Claire, Wis. “But everybody has the same conditions and it’s fun no matter what. We’ve all done this in brutal conditions, so we’ve had some training. I’m just amazed at the amount of people still pouring in here and those who are watching.”
Ukrainian Olympian (in 1998 and 2002) Volodymyr Hlyvka, from the Norge Ski Club, finished third overall in the A Class (217.3) but won the Longest Standing competition with a jump of 79 meters as he flew through the snow and landed just two meters short of the Norge record of 81 meters.
His long and continued success in the sport has inspired many jumpers and he has enjoyed each year he returns to Norge.
“It’s remarkable,” he said of the 108 years the event has been a part of the community. “The crowd that come(s) out is really nice and they come up and say hi often. I love competing and having a fun time doing it. Even after all this time.”
The inclement weather couldn’t keep the fans away or the skiers from enjoying the day.
Sebastian Klinga, a 20-year-old from Finland and a member of the Lahti Ski Club said Norge is one of his favorite places to compete because of the atmosphere.
“It’s quite fun here,” he said. “The people are wild, and it makes for a good time. I was watching some of my teammates and I had a lady wanting to take a picture of my jacket because it said ‘Finland’ on it. She also took some pictures of me and she didn’t even get in it.
“That is neat because at home you don’t get that. I will be in some lady’s photobook now.”
Klinga placed second in the A Class competition behind Finnish winner Jere Kykkanen. Klinga also was awarded the Most Graceful Jumper award and will have his name etched on a plaque in the Norge Club House.
The weather shortened the event when the officials decided to eliminate the preliminary jump.
Casey Larson, a Norge Ski Club member, placed seventh in the A Class. Without a preliminary jump, he admittedly took a while to get acclimated to the track.
“The track just felt off at first,” said Larson, who added nine meters to his second jump. “But I talked it out and got a better feel for the track and had a more complete jump.
“Either way it’s great here and it’s a fun weekend for everyone.”