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updated: 1/21/2014 3:22 PM

Fox River Grove ski tournament takes flight this weekend

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  • The packed snow on the 70 meter ski jump hill reflects the blue winter sky as a skier sails down at a previous Norge Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Dozens of former and potential Olympic ski jumpers compete at the event. The hills and jumps are all built and maintained by volunteers. More than 100 years ago, Norge Ski Club members carried snow up onto the tower by using long lines of volunteers, passing bags of snow from one person to the next, and spreading it on the tower and hill by hand. Today it is still done the same way. In the days before the weekend tournament, the "snowing the tower" chore is a social event for the club.

       The packed snow on the 70 meter ski jump hill reflects the blue winter sky as a skier sails down at a previous Norge Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Dozens of former and potential Olympic ski jumpers compete at the event. The hills and jumps are all built and maintained by volunteers. More than 100 years ago, Norge Ski Club members carried snow up onto the tower by using long lines of volunteers, passing bags of snow from one person to the next, and spreading it on the tower and hill by hand. Today it is still done the same way. In the days before the weekend tournament, the "snowing the tower" chore is a social event for the club.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer, 2008

  • Norge Ski Club's tournament weekend is filled with competitions, including the 40-meter jump.

       Norge Ski Club's tournament weekend is filled with competitions, including the 40-meter jump.
    Chris Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Spectators watch from the club house at the 108th Annual International Ski Jumping Tournament at Norge Ski Club Hill in Fox River Grove.

       Spectators watch from the club house at the 108th Annual International Ski Jumping Tournament at Norge Ski Club Hill in Fox River Grove.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2013

  • Matthew Polz, of Calgary, Canada, Casey Larson and Kevin Bickner, both of Norge Ski Club, perform a rare triple jump Sunday at the 108th Annual International Ski Jumping Tournament at Norge Ski Club Hill in Fox River Grove.

       Matthew Polz, of Calgary, Canada, Casey Larson and Kevin Bickner, both of Norge Ski Club, perform a rare triple jump Sunday at the 108th Annual International Ski Jumping Tournament at Norge Ski Club Hill in Fox River Grove.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2013

 
 

With the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games just two weeks away, winter sports enthusiasts can get into the Olympic spirit at this weekend's 109th annual Norge Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

The tournament, established by Norwegian immigrants and organized by the Norge Ski Club, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26.

"It's a fun, family event," said Gene Brown, the club's corresponding secretary. "It's a tradition that goes back years. You get a national Olympic sport right in your own backyard. It can give people a taste of what the athletes have to go through. It's a great precursor to the upcoming Olympics."

The tournament starts at noon both days. The club is at 100 Ski Hill Road, north of routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove. Gates open at 11 a.m.

Saturday's event kicks off with a competition for juniors on hills 5, 10, 25, and 40 meters high, followed by the Junior National Championship Qualifier on the 70-meter hill, the tallest of five hills.

Junior ski jumpers will compete for a spot representing the Central Division in the National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, this March. Junior athletes typically can range from 10 years to 17 years old.

On Sunday, USA Ski Team jumpers will compete for U.S. Cup points, cash awards and national rankings in their sixth stop on the national tour, which wraps up in March in Park City, Utah.

"It's a USA ski jumping men's competition that pits the best U.S. men that are currently in the country," Brown said.

The tournament is sanctioned by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding.

Organizers anticipate having roughly 80 skiers.

"On the big hill alone you are probably looking between 55 and 60 jumpers," Brown said. "We have jumpers from all over the country. It's a big tournament."

International teams from Slovenia, Norway, Finland, and Canada also are expected to participate and compete against USA team athletes in the Midwest's Five-Hills Tournament held on the tallest ski hills in several states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.

"We've been very grateful," Brown said. "We've had a lot of support from the community and we have had really good attendance."

Presale admission buttons are available for $10 per person at area merchants. Tickets are $11 per person online and may be purchased through Friday. The cost is $15 at the gate on tournament day.

Shuttle bus service will be provided from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with pickups from the Dominick's at routes 22 and 14 and the Fox River Grove Metra station.

For information, email clubinfo@norgeskiclub.com or call (847) 639-9718. Visit www.norgeskiclub.com.

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