Ski jump 'rings' out the best ... with cowbell

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BRATTLEBORO — The conditions were perfect, the weather was beautiful, and the aeronautical ski jumping skills were on fine display Sunday.

There was only one thing the Harris Hill Ski Jump competition could have used: More cowbell.

"We ran out of cowbells," said Liz Richards, a member of the Harris Hill organizing committee. "We sold all 250 of them this weekend. We buy them from the Eastern Ski Federation out of Lake Placid, N.Y. They in turn give us a donation, so we help each other out. They're probably the most popular item that we have."

Indeed, the sound of cowbells ringing was ubiquitous this weekend, heralding the start of each run as announcers Peter "Fish" Case and Nick Farrell yelled out "He's on the hill!" and the jumpers began their descent.

"It's really a way for the jumpers to get motivated," Richards said, "because with mittened hands you don't hear any clapping, but they can hear the cowbells. It's a way to get them all psyched, and the kids all love the cowbells."

Curtis Hunting of Lydon, and his friend who identified herself as "Best Lady," attended the competition for the second straight year. "I love it, it's fun," Hunting said. "I like to watch them fly. It's wonderful. The children are having a great time."

Case, a local radio personality and columnist, said it looked like a record crowd turnout for the two-day competition this year. "The support from the community, the energy has been great; it has just been a great weekend at the Hill."

His announcing partner, Farrell, is a former ski jump competitor whose career was derailed by a spinal cord injury. "I'd rather be jumping, but it's fun being back here," said Farrell, from Andover, N.H. "It's a sport I love. I would ski jump again in a heartbeat."

The Harris Hill Ski Jump will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022. The success of the event is driven by its many volunteers and a love for winter sports that was reflected in the faces of attendees both young and old.

"We have a very happy crowd here," Richards said. "The last couple of years we've had phenomenal weather; what's really increased every year is the online ticket sales. We have at least 100 volunteers, and we're lucky we get all the people coming back year after year. We are one of the oldest winter outdoor sports events in New England. It's going strong, you betcha."


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