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updated: 9/29/2011 2:39 PM

U.S. ski jumping kicks off in Fox River Grove

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  • Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove will be hosting the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament will take place Sunday. In this 2006 photo, Anders Johnson of the U.S. ski team flies over Norge's 70-meter hill.

      Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove will be hosting the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament will take place Sunday. In this 2006 photo, Anders Johnson of the U.S. ski team flies over Norge's 70-meter hill.
    Daily Herald FILE PHOTO

  • Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove hosts the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament will take place Sunday. U.S. Olympic medalist Billy Demong is expected to participate.

      Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove hosts the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament will take place Sunday. U.S. Olympic medalist Billy Demong is expected to participate.
    courtesy of the U.S. Ski Team

  • Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove hosts the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament takes place Sunday. U.S. Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane is expected to participate.

      Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove hosts the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament takes place Sunday. U.S. Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane is expected to participate.
    courtesy of U.S. Ski Team

 
 

This weekend, Fox River Grove will be the hot spot for anyone curious about ski jumping and roller ski racing. And if you're already a fan, it's something you don't want to miss.

Norge Ski Club will be hosting the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships Saturday, while its annual special jumping tournament will take place Sunday. Training starts at 9 a.m. Friday.

At least 60 ski jumpers are expected to participate, including about 20 to 24 who will compete in the Nordic Combined, which consists of ski jumping and a race on roller skis, Norge Ski Club board member Gene Brown said.

Among the athletes expected to participate are U.S. Olympic medalists Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane, and top Canadian athletes.

This is the first time in nearly 50 years that Norge has hosted the U.S. championships, and the first time it has organized a road race for the Nordic Combined, Brown said.

"This has taken a lot more preparation that a normal tournament simply because it's a U.S. national competition. We are used to hosting sanctioned competitions, but this involves the best athletes in the county, and it involves national rankings for the athletes."

The club has arranged to fly in officials from all over the country, including judges and members of the International Ski Federation. Every detail had to be planned and analyzed to comply with national and international rules, Brown said. About 60 to 80 volunteers worked to organize the event.

"We're extremely pleased at how things are going, and obviously we are just praying for good weather," he said.

All but one of the five members of the newly named Visa Women Ski Jumping Team will be participating in the competition, said coach Alan Alborn, a former member of the U.S. ski jumping team.

Women's ski jumping will be featured as an Olympic sport in 2014, the first time in the history of the Olympic Games. That has greatly energized the team, and hopefully spectators too, Alborn said.

"I think it's going to be terrific. I'm excited about it, mostly because it's around a bunch of population and it's easy accessible. It should draw a lot of interest from the crowd, which is great for the sport," he said.

Barring extreme weather like lightning or heavy winds, the tournament will take place rain or shine, Brown said.

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