'Like watching the Olympics in your own backyard': Norge Ski Club jumps into October
Fox River Grove's Norge Ski Club jumps into October
It had all the ingredients of Oktoberfest -- authentic German food, craft beer and even a one-pound pretzel.
But the Norge Ski Club also had something unique -- highflying ski jumping.
The Fox River Grove club's "Jumptoberfest," its annual fall ski jump tournament, wrapped up Sunday with daring athletes soaring high above the suburban landscape at speeds up to 50 mph.
With the first snow still weeks away, hopefully, the skiers zoomed down a track with a watered down porcelain surface.
"There is a little more friction to it than snow," said competitor Hunter Gibson, 20, of Woodstock.
The landing hill was covered with plastic mats laid out like shingles.
"They give a little bit of a cushion. When they're wet, they simulate the surface of snow very well," said Guy Larson, chairman of the Norge Ski Training Center.
Patrick Gasienica of McHenry, a member of the U.S. national team, achieved a jump of 73.5 meters on Sunday
"It's perfect," the 21-year-old said.
"Good crowd. Good weather. No rain. You couldn't ask for more."
The "summer" porcelain track is good for practice, he said, offering a more consistent surface than during the winter.
"It's a lot of fun to have a crowd to jump in front of again," Gibson added.
The event enjoyed a healthy turnout, averaging 2,000 to 3,000 attendees who made their presence known with horns and cowbells.
Larson gave special kudos to the Lions Club of Fox River Grove for its work at the concession stands.
"This is great. This is like watching the Olympics in your own backyard," said Martha Boling-Risser of Lake Barrington, one of the enthusiastic spectators Sunday.
Barrington resident Diane Paice enjoyed the jumping with her grandson, 9-year-old Kelten Paice of Cary.
Both came out Saturday and Sunday. Kelten, she said, came out to support friends who were jumping Saturday.
Diane, who attends winter events at Norge as well, appreciated the fall weather.
"It's more enjoyable when you're not freezing," she said.