Harris Hill crowd could see trophy-retiring win

A snow groomer prepares Brattleboro's Harris Hill ski jump for this weekend's competition.

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BRATTLEBORO — A pair of two-time Harris Hill Ski Jump winners are set to compete at New England's only Olympic-size venue this weekend for a trophy-retiring third victory.

Marlboro College graduate Chris Lamb, winner in 2010 and 2013, and Blaz Pavlic of Slovenia, winner in 2017 and 2019, will be among the 33 male and eight female athletes from North America and Europe slated to leap off a 90-meter hill that's one of just six of its size in the nation.

"We have a great field and one of the largest I can remember," chief of competition Todd Einig says.

Since its start in 1922, the annual Harris Hill event has attracted several thousand spectators who watch jumpers shoot at speeds of 60 mph before soaring more than 300 feet in the air.

This year is the first in nearly seven decades that more than one jumper with two wins is competing to retire the jump's Winged Ski Trophy. In 1951, Merrill "Mezzy" Barber of Brattleboro, Arthur Tokle of Norway and Art Devlin of Lake Placid, N.Y., all tried, with Tokle ending up victorious.

Only five jumpers in the venue's nearly century-old history have won three times — Torger Tokle of Norway in 1942, his brother Arthur Tokle in 1951, Art Devlin in 1954, Hugh Barber of Brattleboro in 1974 and Vladimir Glyvka of Ukraine in 2000.

"Mezzy" Barber would finish his career with two wins, joining Lamb, Pavlic and past athletes Walter Malmquist and Jeff Volmrich.

This year's competition will feature the annual Pepsi Challenge Saturday and Fred Harris Memorial Tournament Sunday.

Says co-director Kate McGinn: "We're looking forward to another spectacular event."

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And colleague Liz Richards: "I've sold tickets to people from as far away as Florida."

Spencer Knickerbocker is set to represent Brattleboro as the only local jumper.

"I've bought a new suit," the Marlboro College graduate says.

Gates will open each day at 10 a.m., with practice jumps taking place before competition begins at 12:15 p.m.

The family event offers food and beverage vendors, a bonfire, music, tailgating and appearances by Jumper the cow mascot.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger and can be purchased at the gate or online at www.brownpapertickets.com. Advance discount admission of $15 for adults and $12 for students ages 6 to 12 are available at locations listed at www.harrishillskijump.com.

Harris Hill, located on Cedar Street, boasts a snowmaking system, so the program will take place regardless of ground cover in surrounding areas.

The event is presented by hundreds of community volunteers and paid for by ticket sales, donations and sponsors including Pepsi, The Richards Group, Mount Snow, NorthStar and Brattleboro Savings & Loan.

Additional details are available at www.harrishillskijump.com or its Facebook and Twitter pages.