Roadside History: The Nansen Ski Jump is the oldest continuously operating ski club in the USJanuary 06. 2017 6:26PM
N.H. Historical Maker Number: 227.
Date established: 2011 in Milan.
Location: Route 16 at the site of the ski jump near the Berlin-Milan town line.
What the sign says: "Named for Fridjof Nansen, the Greenland explorer, Berlin's first ski club formed in 1872. The club sponsored the "Big Nansen" constructed in 1936-38 by the National Youth Administration and the City of Berlin. At the time, it was possibly the tallest steel-tower ski jump in the world, standing 171 feet high. The first jumper was Clarence "Spike" Oleson in 1937. In 1938, the Olympic trials were held here. Four times Milan hosted the United States Ski Jumping National Championships: 1940, '57, '65, '72.
The back story: Scandinavians who came to the area to work for paper mills brought their dedication to skiing and formed the Nansen Ski Club in 1872, which is the oldest continuously operating ski club in the country. This club was instrumental in creating the ski jump, which still stands today.
For almost fifty years, the "Big Nansen" was the largest ski jump in the eastern United States and the foremost jump in the country. It attracted some of the biggest names in ski jumping to the North Country for decades and was the site of major championship ski jumping competitions.
The ski jump was last used in 1985 and officially closed in 1988. Over the years, the site became overgrown and dilapidated.
The Nansen Ski Jump Restoration Project is now underway with a goal of restoring the site so visitors can view it as it once was and learn more about the jump's history and its impact on the world of skiing.
The project started with brush clearing work in 2015. This past summer, a crew started to rebuild the hillside staircase leading up to the jump and work was done to expose the terraced seating area below the landing. The process of redecking the jump began in December and is expected to be completed by the end of this month. Plans also are in the works to restore the judge's booth next to the jump this year.