A jumper soars off the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. (Pine Mountain Ski Jump/Facebook)
Ski jumping was huge around the turn of the last century across the upper Midwest. Thousands of spectators would gather at jumping competitions across Michigan’s UP and around Red Wing, Minnesota. The sport dwindled and only one site remains still holding annual jumping competitions. Two new sites, one located in the western UP and another near Red Wing, are coming onboard and hopes to be hosting competitions by 2018.
The Pine Mountain Ski Jump, hosting events since 1939, is known throughout the jumping world as one of the best jumping hills in the sport. Every February top jumpers from around the world and up to 20,000 spectators flock to Iron Mountain. The U.S. record jump of 140 meters/459 feet was set here and still stands. Two World Cup jumping competitions have been held here. It's located next to Pine Mountain Resort.
Copper Peak, a ski flying hill near Ironwood, was erected in 1969 and held international competitions through 1994. It’s the only ski flying jump outside of Europe, and a movement to bring it back to life recently received some hope, according to an article in the Ironwood Daily Globe. A bill recently introduced in the Michigan legislature to create a funding mechanism for the stalled project would provide $1.2 million a year to fund the needed renovations.
Plans call for the Peak to not only host a winter International Ski Federation event but also summer competition. Copper Peak has submitted a permit to the Ski Federation to get on their schedule for the summer of 2019.
Meanwhile a new ski jumping hill is being constructed near Red Wing at the site of a former downhill ski hill, Mount Frontenac, owned by the Prairie Island Indian Community, according to a report in the Post Bulletin.
“The facility, which will cost around $7 million, will include the ski jumping hill suitable for world-class competition and a second phase to include downhill tubing runs, zip lines, disc golf and a concert venue,” reported Bryan Sanders, a former U.S. Olympic jumper and executive director of the American Ski Jumping Hall of fame and Museum located in Red Wing.
Plans call for the hill to host World Cup events in the future and be used as a training facility year round with summer jumping. They are hoping to host a summer Grand Prix event in 2018. The project has been funded so far through private investments and donations.