Plenty of thrills and chills on the Hill

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BRATTLEBORO — At the Harris Hill Ski Jump, rock music echoed from speakers as spectators prepared for the 98th annual event by eating, drinking and hanging out with friends or family.

"Harris Hill Ski Jump is the place to be," said Lisa Russ, of Keene, N.H.

Russ brought cheese, crackers, fruit and sandwiches for tailgating in the parking area Sunday. Joe Darby, of Keene, N.H., said they also bought food from one of the vendors, Andrzej's Polish Kitchen.

Nearby, other attendees gathered in what is called "the beer tent." Others stood near a campfire that had just been started.

Bob Parker of Whitehall, N.Y., is a skier himself and enjoys watching ski sports. He was meeting up with friends from New Hampshire.

This year marked his fifth or sixth time in attendance.

"This is a fun sport," Parker said, noting that he tends to see a lot of local non-skiers who come out to watch and support the event.

Kate Bowen of Putney said her family has always been involved in ski jumping. Her brother was on the United States Ski Team, her mother was a judge and her father was an announcer for this year's Harris Hill Ski Jump competitions.

With her extended family traveling from around New England to attend, Bowen compared the event to a family reunion. She estimated attending it for more than 30 years.

"It's a long time, right?" she said, sitting in a folding chair at the bottom of the hill.

Brian Bashaw, production manager for Brattleboro Community Television, was happy to see temperatures close to 40 degrees Sunday. He said the station's crew had been "frozen" Saturday and warmed up inside a U-Haul van, where some of their equipment was stored.

Nolan Edgar, content manager for BCTV, said cameras continued working during the colder day. Bashaw credited camera operators with sticking out the cold weather and doing "a fantastic job."

"Ninety-eight years, we've been doing this," Peter "Fish" Case, one of the three announcers, told the crowd before contests began again Sunday. "Let's act like it."

Nick Farrell, announcer and former ski jumper, said competitors go about 55 miles per hour before hitting the takeoff. They are then judged on style and distance, with the best jumpers landing up to 97 meters (310 feet) away.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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