Salisbury Ski Jumps: 93 years and counting

This is a week that galvanizes all the residents of Salisbury like no other. Every year for the past 92, leading into this year to make 93, the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) has hosted the Salisbury Ski Jumps, otherwise known as Jumpfest, on Satre Hill. It’s an event that gives February a sparkle and an aura of pure fun that can be lost during the too-often gray January that precedes it. Just about everyone who lives in Salisbury volunteers in one way or another to make it all happen. Kudos to them all for their hard work and commitment to this iconic celebration of winter. 

For anyone who has not attended any of the three-day winter festivities that surround the ski jumps, this should be the year you change that. It happens from Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10. There is something for everybody, from casual spectators to all-in participants. 

Friday night, target jumping starts out the fun (let’s face it, this is mostly for spectators), and afterward, the rare sight of a human dogsled race (anyone with a good dose of nerve and questionable judgment can and should do this — only the best of participants.) The dogsled race is equally enjoyable for spectators and those who join the teams.

On Saturday, it’s the 20- and 30-meter ski jumping competition and the practice for those who jump off the 65-meter hill. And really, the smaller hills are quite impressive in themselves. But if you haven’t been up at the site of the jump, and want to be impressed, take a look up there from any vantage point in the area where the 65-meter hill is visible. It’s a monumental and stunning sight, and seeing highly trained athletes glide down its face and fly through the air is simply extraordinary.

After all that, it’s the Snow Ball at The White Hart inn on Saturday night, right in the heart of Salisbury. Time to relax and have some indoor fun, dancing and warming up by the fire.

Then, Sunday brings the 65-Meter Eastern U.S. Jumping Championships. The competitors are both skilled and talented, with nerves of steel and, apparently, wings. These jumpers are Junior National hopefuls, and the winners will receive their awards on Sunday after the competition and become part of the Eastern Junior National team, which will travel to Park City, Utah, for the 2019 Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Junior Nationals. 

And remember that contributing to the Salisbury Winter Sports Association benefits not only the ski jumps in Salisbury, but also youth Alpine ski programs and winter activities across the Northwest Corner and over the New York state line.  The SWSA attitude is the antidote for the winter blues: especially for those who tend to hibernate when the cold air blows in, taking part in or just appreciating winter sports is the best medicine. Don’t worry about being chilly while watching the jumps: there’s always a good bonfire, hot food and beverages and camaraderie to keep you warm. 

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to wear heavy socks and well-soled boots, as well as bundling up otherwise, if the temperature warrants it. 

For admission prices and times of the events during the Jumpfest 2019 weekend, go to www.jumpfest.org. And, give the Jumpfest program that was in Lakeville Journal Company newspapers last week and is available for pickup all around the region a look as well. It will inspire you to be a part of this weekend of winter fun.