With less than two weeks until skiers once again take flight at Brattleboro's world-famous Harris Hill, you can't help but get a little excited.
Performers for each day's opening ceremonies for the annual competition - this year taking place Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17 - have been announced. Brattleboro Union High School student and New England Youth Theatre regular Kristina Meima will sing the national anthem on the first day of competition, while Samirah Evans will perform for her third consecutive year on Sunday.
But it's the real stars of the weekend - the top ski jumpers from the United States, Canada and Europe - that we anticipate huge crowds will be gathered to watch. These brave men and woman rocket down the 90-meter jump, designed to International Ski Federation specifications, and launch themselves more than 300 feet through the air at speeds close to 60 miles per hour. It's a thrilling combination of grace and daredevil will that you can't turn away from.
And it all takes place right here in Brattleboro!
According to event organizers, this year's event will not only feature the annual Pepsi Challenge and the Fred Harris Memorial Tournament, but also the only U.S. Stop on the International Ski Federation's FIS Cup and a stop on the United States American Ski Jumping U.S. Cup Tour.
No need to worry about what Mother Nature has in store. (Was it really 50 degrees last week?) Snowmakers were put out at the jump last week and ran through the weekend. And with four successful years under their collective belts, we're confident event organizers know what it takes to pull off a good weekend.
What a great event to have the eyes of the world on our little corner of southern Vermont. No only for the competition, but for what Harris Hill represents.
The ski jump is organized entirely by volunteers; more than 100, in fact, to put together the annual two-day tournament. And everything is financed by the support of the community - through sponsorships, cash donations and in-kind donations of time, expertise and materials.
In short, the best of what Brattleboro and the rest of Windham County has to offer.
Take a bow, Harris Hill trustees, committee members and Outing Club and Windham Foundation officials. We know that all of you, along with the volunteers, make this happen each year.
So we look forward to joining with the rest of the community next weekend to take in some excitement, family fun and community pride.