Harris Hill: Perfect weekend for jumping
BRATTLEBORO -- This year Mother Nature cooperated with the Harris Hill Ski Jump.
Last year, when Brattleboro's signature event became the only International Ski Federation sanctioned competition in the U.S., it was warm and the woods were bare.
This year, not only did Vermont get more than a foot of fresh powder last week, but the weather was cold and windy this weekend, perfect for the group of international ski jumpers who traveled to Brattleboro for the annual event.
"It's cold out there," said Harris Hill Co-Director Betsy Farley while warming up inside a tent before Sunday's opening ceremonies. "It may not be great for the spectators but its perfect for the jumpers."
The temperature barely got above freezing all weekend, ensuring that the jump stayed fast and slick, and on Sunday a gusty wind blew from the north, giving the jumpers a little extra lift as they soared above the crowds, who were bundled, but enthusiastic.
More than 4,000 people showed up to watch throughout the weekend
Visitors oohed and aahed and cameras and video cameras caught the action as the jumpers took off, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph as they flew about 300 feet through the air.
Dylan Seymour, 10, of Massachusetts, watched from the stairs leading up to the jump.
He wore ski goggles and said he was ready to give it a try, though his mother shook her head, and said it was not going to happen this year.
Jumpers this year came from Norway, Canada, Holland, Korea, Slovenia, Japan, Ukraine and the United States.
For the U.S. jumpers it gives them a chance to earn points for international competition without having to travel overseas.
Farley said that while it was nice to have good weather and a full slate of international jumpers, it is the more that 150 volunteers who work all weekend who truly make the event happen.
From organizing the jump throughout the year to parking cars, standing still and selling t-shirts in unheated booths, and making sure everyone is safe on the steep and slick stairs leading up to the jump, Farley said the volunteers make sure Brattleboro's historic ski jump takes off every year.
"This event is so important to Brattleboro," she said. "People love the excitement. It's unbelievable the way everyone comes together. It would be impossible to do it without them."
Everyone has a role to play, Farley said, even Kelsea Adams who spent Sunday in a thin cow costume.
The too-short costume left her ankles exposed, but even in the 20-degree temperature, and with some mischievous kids yanking on her tail, the Putney native said it was worth the trip she made from her college in Troy, N.Y. to be a part of the festivities.
"It's a great reason to come back to Vermont for the weekend," she said. "I'd do anything for Betsy Farley."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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