Warmer weather draws crowds to Norge ski competitions
Megan and Kevin Maiworm of Algonquin decided the 40-degree temperature on Saturday was perfect to tailgate.
They weren't at a football game. They hosted about 20 family and friends in an unseasonably grassy field before heading to the 110th annual Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.
"We're going to start a new tradition," said Kevin Maiworm, 35.
The Maiworms were among about 1,000 fans on Saturday, who lined up for the annual tournament at Norge Ski Club, at 100 Ski Hill Road, just north of Routes 14 and 22. The tournament continues Sunday with gates opening at noon. About 5,000 enthusiasts are expected.
Organizers anticipate about 70 skiers on Saturday and another 60 on Sunday from around the United States, Slovenia, Finland, Canada and elsewhere. Admission on Sunday is $15 at the gate with free admission for children ages 12 and younger.
USA Ski Team jumpers will compete for U.S. Cup points, cash awards and national rankings. The tournament is sanctioned by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding.
"Tickets were sold out everywhere I checked," said Charlie Sedivec, a Norge Ski Club spokesman and the club's unofficial historian.
The warmer temperatures attracted a full crowd but likely could cause "slower" slopes during the competition, said Norge Director Guy Larson.
"The temperatures cause the snow to be more wet and that could slow down the skiers," Larson said.
He said safety of the slopes will remain a priority during the competition. But so far, they've never had to cancel a competition.
"I've been here for 12 years, and we always had to deal with Mother Nature," he said.
Casey Larson, 16, of Barrington, prepared to compete in the 70-meter jump in the junior national qualifier on Saturday. It's his 10th year in competition.
"The hill crews did a good job on preparing it for the competition," said Larson. "I'm not worried about it. It's just different conditions. That's all."
Even Ashley Hannah, 16, of Fox River Grove was in full gear, awaiting to do her jump.
"The slopes could be slower, but I like that. I've only been jumping for three months," she said.