First a trivia question: What was one big difference between the ski jumping at the 86th annual Harris Hill Ski Jumping Competition Feb. 13-14, and jumping at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?
Answer: Women jumped at Harris Hill.
It may be a little like beating a dead horse at this point, but the decision by IOC President Jacques Rogge to ignore the FIS vote, 114-1, to include women jumpers remains inexplicable to many.
Anyway, 25 jumpers, including three women, took part in the competition Sunday in Brattleboro, Vt.
They climbed up alongside the jump, got set, slid down the takeoff, and hurled themselves into the air as generations of fearless skiers have done in years past.
It must be seen to be appreciated.
Chris Lamb of Andover, N.H., made the longest jump of the day Sunday, 333 feet.
Abby Hughes of Park City, Utah, won women's jumping Saturday, with a jump of 222.5 feet.
The hill is a 90-meter ski jump that dates back to 1922. It was the vision of Fred Harris, founder of the Dartmouth Outing Club and Brattleboro Outing Club.
A history of the DOC recounts, "Fred Harris, Class of 1911, founded the Dartmouth Outing Club in the winter of 1909-10. Harris was a native of Brattleboro, Vt., and by his own account had ‘skeeing on the brain'. This pleasant affliction had him making skis (the typical size was 8 feet long, ash or hickory) and using them on the local hills and farm fields."
The jump rises above a cornfield that, at the 86th Harris Hill event as at many past events, was a sea of cars, mud, and spectators.
The hill was site of the 1992 Ski Jumping Championships, but was closed in 2005 because the takeoff platform had become so rickety with age that the hill was no longer sanctioned for competitions.
A fundraising effort driven by Pat Howell and Liz Richards and a committee of helpers raised $575,000 to rebuild the jump.
The work took place over the summer and fall of 2008, resulting in the nation's newest 90-meter jump, and the only 90-meter jump in New England. One judge standing by to measure distance said the size of a jump venue is measured from the crown of the hill to a point 80 percent of the distance to where the slope starts to ease off at the bottom.
The 86th Harris Hill Ski Jumping Competition was the second annual event for the rebuilt hill, and attracted much interest among spectators, and a carnival air at the base of the jump that included food stands, souvenir tables, and vendors selling local Vermont products.