The 108th annual International Ski Jumping Tournament at Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove was scheduled to take place rain or shine. On Sunday, snow and sleet were added to that list as hundreds of spectators braved wintry weather for the twice-per-year competition.
Guy Larson, coordinator for the Nordic combined programs at Norge Ski Club, said supporters of the tournament are a hardy bunch.
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"I knew the weather was not going to scare off this crowd," Larson said.
The rain and snow weren't too much of a problem for the jumpers either, though more experienced skiers adjusted for the conditions better than the junior competitors, according to Larson.
Athletes skipped the trial runs at the start of the noon tournament Sunday in an attempt to avoid the worst of the weather. Casey Larson, 14, of Barrington, said it's nice to have a practice run in a competition atmosphere but thought it was a good decision to make the change for better conditions in the long run.
The Norge Ski Club jumper said Saturday's conditions were close to perfect and that Sunday's weather didn't ruin the tournament at all.
"The worst day of ski jumping is still better than school," Larson said.
Adam Brown, of Cary, showed up for the tournament shortly after 11 a.m. to get a head start on tailgating with a group of friends. The tailgating part of the weekend has grown substantially in recent years with plenty of people staying long after the jumping is over.
Meg Ames, of Crystal Lake, was equally undeterred by the elements. She spent much of the afternoon near a big bonfire, which burned despite periods of rain and sleet.
"It's always fun," Ames said. "We come no matter what the weather."
Norge hosts ski jumping competitions in September and January every year. They are the program's biggest fundraisers.
The Fox River Grove hill is the third of five in the US Cup's Midwest leg this year. Jumpers add their scores together from one competition to the next before the series finale in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The mostly young athletes are separated by age for the competition.