To young ski jumpers, Norge Ski Club's facility in Fox River Grove is definitely one of a kind.
Calgary native Logan Mitchell, 14, says the Canadian jumps he's used to are more modern. "It's a little bit scary at first, but it's fun," Mitchell said, explaining that he's used to climbing up metal staircases rather than wood planks.
Mitchell was among highly ranked junior jumpers from the Central and Eastern divisions who on Saturday took part in a junior national championship qualifier on the 70-meter hill. The Junior National Championships are scheduled to take place in early March in Park City, Utah.
"It's really nice out -- not too cold. It's a little windy up the hill, occasionally it will affect someone, but it's not too bad," said ski jumper Mike Furey, 23, of Lake Barrington.
Ten-year-old Chris Lorentz of Johnsburg took an immediate liking to ski jumping -- but strictly from the bottom of the hill.
"It looks fun, but a little too hard," Chris said, hot dog in hand.
His older sister agreed. "It's cool, but scary," said Sam, 12. The kids came to watch the competition with their parents, Dawn and Dieter Lorentz.
The 107th annual Norge Ski Jump Tournament continues today, with about 55 skiers and four international teams who will be competing in the fourth stop of the K70 5-Hills International Tournament, said Charlie Sedivec, Norge Ski Club's publicity chairman. Cary native Mike Glasder is hoping to clinch a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic ski jump team.
The tournament takes place from noon to 4 p.m. at 100 Ski Hill Road, Fox River Grove. Admission is $15 at the gate or $10 in advance. Children are admitted free.
Gates open at 11 a.m. Parking is free. Free shuttle buses will run from the Fox River Grove Metra station, as well as from the Stonehill shopping center parking lot at routes 14 and 22. For details, see norgeskiclub.com or call (847) 639-9718.