Charlie Sedivec has either competed in or watched all but a couple editions of the annual Norge Ski Jump in Fox River Grove over the last 50 years.
He learned to ski jump as a little kid and in his teens switched to Alpine skiing. He says ski jumping has changed radically over time -- for one, nowadays spectators don't get as dramatic a view.
The 106th annual Norge Ski Jump TournamentWhen: noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 29-30
Where: 100 Ski Hill Road, Fox River Grove, three-quarters of a mile north of routes 14 and 22
Admission: $15 at the gate, $10 in advance. Children 12 and younger admitted free.
Transportation: Free shuttle buses will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30. Stops are: the Fox River Grove Metra train station, 4015 Northwest Hwy., the parking lot of the Stonehill Shopping Center at Routes 14 and 22, and the Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road.
Busses will pick up walkers along they way, pending available seats.
Free parking is available at the event and at the Stonehill Shopping Center.
Details: norgeskiclub.com; (847) 639-9718
"The skiers used to go so much higher in the air and used to come down a lot harder," says Sedivec, 55, now the spokesman for the Norge Ski Club. "Now the objective is to be more scientific and mathematical, you want to keep close to the ground."
Skiers competing in the 106th edition of the Norge Ski Jump, slated for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, and Sunday, Jan. 30, include members of the U.S., Canadian, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish and Russian national teams.
Skiers of all ages will be competing in several categories, with jumps ranging from the 5-meter jump to the tallest 70-meter jump. Typically 40 to 65 skiers compete, Sedivec said.
For the past two years the Norge Ski Jump has been the third leg of the 4-Hills International Ski Jump Tournament, with other locations in Eau Claire, Wis., Minneapolis and Westby, Wis.
In addition, Saturday's K70 event for juniors will allow skiers to earn points to qualify for the Junior Olympics, something 15-year-old A.J. Brown, of Fox River Grove, knows well.
The sophomore at Faith Lutheran High School in Crystal Lake grew up next to the ski jump, and has qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic team every year since he was 10.
"Once you go there the first time, it's pretty much the same every time because you follow the lead of the guys who are there before you," A.J. says. "I'm one of the old guys now!"
Ski jumping gives him a feeling that is hard to describe, he says.
"You're so into it, it's like flying," he said. "You're weightless, and you feel the air pick you up and carry you down the hill."
Last year's Norge Ski Jump attracted about 6,500 spectators, and organizers hope crowds will top 8,000 this year, Sedivec says.
Sedivec expects only four to six female competitors, but he says that over the years he has seen some women perform better than men.
He thinks it's high time that the International Olympic Committee allow women to compete in ski jumping, the only Olympic sports category that remains men-only.
"There are a lot of antiquated decision-makers, a lot of countries that think (allowing women) is rocking the boat and don't want to bend," he said, adding that the U.S. is among those pushing for reform.
For details on the weekend's events, visit norgeskiclub.com.