Norge Ski Club's international winter tournament returns for 115th year

Norge Ski Club's international winter tournament returns for 115th year

  • Athletes from around the world will compete at the Norge Ski Club's 115th International Winter Tournament this weekend.

    Athletes from around the world will compete at the Norge Ski Club's 115th International Winter Tournament this weekend. Daily Herald File Photo, 2018

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted1/22/2020 2:15 PM

With a little ingenuity and a lot of dedication, Norge Ski Club members have turned a hill in Fox River Grove into a destination for daring ski jumpers who gather there each January to create a competitive spectacle.

"It's the oldest ski jumping event in North America," said Charlie Sedivec, who has served as announcer of the annual Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament for the past 50 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The tournament will mark its 115th year this weekend, with events that include a junior competition and K70 competition Saturday, Jan. 25, and the K70-U.S. Cup Five Hills Tournament and Long-Standing competition Sunday, Jan. 26.

Lucas Nichols of the Norge Ski Club launches himself from the large ski jump during last year's international tournament in Fox River Grove.
  Lucas Nichols of the Norge Ski Club launches himself from the large ski jump during last year's international tournament in Fox River Grove. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2019

The January Five-Hills Tournament circuit takes skiers to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, then Minneapolis, followed by Ishpeming, Michigan, and then to Norge, before continuing to Westby, Wisconsin.

The Norge Ski Club has kept the momentum going all these years with a commitment to ski jumping that has included shipping snow to the site when area snowfall was scarce, Sedivec said. And there was the purchase of a new ski tower from Ely, Minnesota, several years ago.

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"We'll go to any length we have to to put on a tournament," he said.

Sedivec said the club uses faux snow if there isn't enough natural snow on the ground.

"We try to get about a foot of snow across the entire area we're using," he said.

It's a long way down from the top of the large ski hill at the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, which will hold its 115th International Winter Tournament Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26.
  It's a long way down from the top of the large ski hill at the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, which will hold its 115th International Winter Tournament Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2019

The scaffold that stands atop the Fox River Grove hill's crest is accessible by a steep climb up steps.

"The tower is 150 feet tall. It's pretty impressive looking. When they look out from the top of the tower, they can see the Chicago skyline," Sedivec said. "It's 70 meters to where the hill starts to flatten out."

Sedivec said about 60 ski jumpers are expected to compete this year, including an international contingent from Slovenia, Poland and Finland.

Jumpers are evaluated on both distance and style by a five-member panel of judges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The judges are in a booth where they can see the entire flight of the skiers," he said. "Usually, the skiers who go the furthest are going to have good style. A lot of these European skiers have good style, and they're going to be tough to beat."

Sedivec, a ski jumper in his youth, said the sport demands a good deal of athleticism.

"They've got strength in their legs. It's phenomenal," he said.

The sport does pose risk.

"We get broken collar bones and a broken leg or arm. Mostly, we've been very fortunate," he said.

Norge Ski Club member and Cary resident Michael Glasder, a member of Team USA in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, will lead the opening ceremonies at the International Winter Tournament this weekend in Fox River Grove.
Norge Ski Club member and Cary resident Michael Glasder, a member of Team USA in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, will lead the opening ceremonies at the International Winter Tournament this weekend in Fox River Grove. - Associated Press/Rick Bowmer

Club member and Cary resident Michael Glasder, a member of Team USA in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, will lead the opening ceremonies, Sedivec said.

Crowd turnout is usually strong, with total weekend attendance of 5,000 people not uncommon.

Organizers expect a good turnout for this weekend's Norge Ski Jump tournament in Fox River Grove.
  Organizers expect a good turnout for this weekend's Norge Ski Jump tournament in Fox River Grove. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2019

"It depends on the weather, who is going to be there," he said. "It's a spectator sport."

The party on the ground at the bottom of the hill includes sales of brats, hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, pop, beer, wine and Jagermeister.

Admission is $11 in advance or $15 at the gate. Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets and lawn chairs.

• • •

Norge Ski Club's International Winter Tournament 2020

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26; gates open at 11 a.m.

Where: Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road, Fox River Grove

Admission: $11 in advance, $15 at the gate; free for ages 12 and younger

Details: norgeskiclub.com

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