“The Sleeping Giant” Awakens
The Nansen Ski Jump, also called the “Big Nansen,” is being restored to its former glory!
Built in 1937, it was then the largest steel towered ski jump in the world. Through the decades it hosted the first ever U.S. Olympic trials, four National Championships, numerous North American Championships, International Invitationals, and was featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Absolutely the greatest ski jumpers of the day traveled from afar to the tip of NH to jump the Big Nansen. Its originator, the Nansen Ski Club (NSC), the “Oldest Ski Club in America”, has produced elite athletes, coaches, and officials and boasts of four of their members being in the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame. Berlin was truly one of the premier Nordic Centers of the East rivaled only by the Olympic complex of Lake Placid, NY.
Unfortunately, a combination of factors contributed to the Nansen Ski Jump holding its final competition in 1985, and being officially abandoned in 1988. It vanished from view. The site was overcome with vegetation, with only a hint of something “lurking” behind. Only the adventurous and the curious, with a recollection of its storied past, attempted the bushwhacking ordeal to reach the structure. Once there, however, they were greeted with a 181 foot tall steel tower with the remnants of its decaying decking and a similarly deteriorated judging stand. The Big Nansen was dangerously close to being merely a footnote and the fodder of old timers’ tales.
Now the good news!
The “Friends of the Nansen Ski Jump” were formed in 2014, became part of the Nansen Ski Club in 2017, and, in partnership with the State of NH (which owns the jump and the land it’s on), have embarked on an aggressive campaign to save the iconic landmark. What started as purely a mission of historic preservation has evolved into returning the jump to “active status,” renovating it to be able to hold elite competition there once again! With the huge promotional boost from former World Cup champion Sarah Hendrickson’s “last leap” off the jump on March 4, 2017 (pictured above), the “Friends,” in conjunction with the State of NH, started this process of reclamation.
An enormous leap forward was achieved when the Nansen Ski Club was awarded a $250,000 Northern Borders Regional Commission (NBRC) grant. That, coupled with matching funds, has supplied us with $312,500 towards the renovations required to bring the jump up to modern standards, to be fully sanctioned. Surveys have been completed and the best ski jump design engineers in the country are designing the modifications required to allow the athletes to fly farther and land softer. The designs will be completed in late June, followed by competitive bidding, with construction to start late summer and be completed by late fall.
More funding is still needed.
The NBRC grant funds will go a long way towards paying for the needed improvements but there are some that are not funded or not funded adequately. The pandemic has forced us to cancel fundraising events. We continue to use our imagination to rally the support that we know is out there. Help us if you can!
Event scheduled! Volunteers needed!
We’ve been placed on the Eastern Ski jumping calendar to host our inaugural event on February 27-28, 2021! The Eastern ski jumping community has pledged to fill the technical slots and train and guide us to fill the others. We need local enthusiastic souls to help us with this groundbreaking event. Please contact us if you have a desire to be part of history! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Revival of the North Country
The North Country of NH is reinventing itself and navigating away from its once proud manufacturing heritage. The splendor of its natural surroundings, and the healthy outdoor activities associated with it, are now being actively promoted, as part of its new tourism-based economy. The return of the Big Nansen fits very nicely into this story line.
The Sleeping Giant is awakening. Let’s welcome him with open arms.
All funds donated when you click this Donate button will be used for the Big Nansen Restoration.