MILAN — A volunteer-led effort to build two smaller hills on the Nansen Ski Jump State Historic Site for a youth-jumping program should be finished in August.
The hills — one 20 meters, the other 40 meters — are being built near the 80-meter Big Nansen, once the world’s tallest ski jump.
The project at the Nansen Ski Jump State Historic Site is being overseen by the Friends of Nansen Ski Jump, a committee of the Nansen Ski Club, which was founded in 1872.
The Big Nansen, according to the club and the state Division of Parks and Recreation, hosted the first Olympic trials in 1938 and the U.S. Ski Jumping National Championships in 1940, 1957, 1965 and 1972. The last sanctioned event took place in 1985; it closed in 1988.
The Big Nansen came back to life — albeit briefly — on March 4, 2017, when the energy drink company Red Bull made it useable in a marketing campaign to promote the return of one of its sponsored athletes. The athlete, Sarah Hendrickson, has deep ties to the Granite State and was the women’s ski jumping world champion in 2013.
The entire production lasted just 45 minutes, said Shawn Costello, but it galvanized the desire of many people to reopen the jump for “sanction-certified” competition, possibly as soon as 2022.
Costello, chairman of the Friends of the Nansen Ski Jump, said that interest translated into several grants.
Scott Halvorson, a member of the Friends of Nansen Ski Jump, said the grants are being held up because there were no bidders for the renovation and construction costs have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic that also made materials unavailable.
In response, the Friends decided to focus on creating the two smaller jumping hills while doing site work.
Phase II will include new tower decking, starting gates, a pre-formed ice track, coaches’ stand, landing hill and outrun safety deflection boards, and a judges’ tower.
The work will permit for safe jumps of up to a maximum of 85 meters — 280 feet — Halvorson said.
Halvorson, the group’s treasurer, wrote in an email Sunday that much of Phase II involves structurally reinforcing the steel jump tower to bring it into compliance with modern safety standards.
“The jump steel is great for 1937 standards, but not 2021,” Halvorson said.
He said the cost for the work for Phase II is estimated at between $500,000 and $1 million. Given the cost, he said the Friends have put “most of our attention” on the small-hills restoration program until they figure out how to get the $350,000 to $500,000 required as a match to receive two grants.
“We need a significant donor!” Halvorson, wrote in all capital letters.
Halvorson, whose late paternal grandfather, Alf, spearheaded the building of The Big Nansen, said the Nansen Ski Club has entered into a 10-year agreement with the state, which includes a 10-year extension option, to “carry out these activities.”
He said the state is responsible for the general maintenance of the site while the club “will be responsible for the improvements made and the holding of jumping events.”