Speeding down the in-run
and up the jump at age 15
Photography by Joe Bedard
Take off into a "Flying Fin" position.
Background is the lumber yard
looking north into "Sawdust Alley."
Rick and I in February, 1959
posing with my new 3
grove real jumping skis.
The Equipment & Jumps
I started my jumping career with five foot maple skis with leather (yes, leather) side clamping binders. I bought my first pair of real "Jumping Skis" from Larry Bover for fifteen bucks. They were 6 foot, had 3 groves in the bottom, with laminated maple wood.
The "jump" in the photos above was made by Joe Bedard, Rick and I and is located off Estey Hill. You know - the home of the Esteyville Gang? It came off that hill and ended up in the saw mill yard off "Sawdust Alley" which is off the end of Birge Street.
We built jumps everywhere we could, like the one in the photographs above. Clinton Tefft use to jump that one with us. We had one on the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital side hill towards Maple Street, the "sand bank" down by the Nelsons and Parmenters, off a side hill by the junction of Cherry and Southern Avenue by the Searles and one off Williams Street up beyond Sandy Campbell's where Interstate Highway 91 now divides Maple Street.
We had heard a "Rumor" that "The Old Brattleboro Jump" was located at this last location. We found a section on the side hill there that was completely cleared of trees in a thick forest area, pack down the fresh snow, built a jump off the natural hill trestle. I jump 137 feet which was the furthest I had ever jumped in my career!I learned how to jump before I every skied downhill. My beginning days were off jumps wherever we could make them.
I did a lot of jumping off the Austine School Jump (located on the hill on the right as you drive up the entrance to the Austine School off Maple Street) and Latchis Jump (located just south of the Massachusetts Entrance Ramp going south of U.S. Route 5) here in Brattleboro. I think the Austine Jump was around a 25-30 meter jump and Latchis a 40-45.
After accomplishing the Latchis Hill Ski Jump, Eddie took Bill, Joe, Rick and me over to Harris Hill. At this time the jump was a 65 meter jump and had the reputation of being one of the largest "natural hill ski jumps." I shot the landing a couple times and gave up my jumping career shortly after.
We use to help out each year to earn free entrance into the competitions by packing down the trestle and landing or marking the landing points of the jumpers.
I never did jump in Competition, but was, in my eyes, an accomplished Jumper! By the way, YOU can make a difference in our "Step Up and Soar" fund raiser going on right now to help fix up Harris Hill for the 85th Annual Event in 2008! My wife and I have contributed "Step 13!" The Number "Lucky 13" was a badge number I carried through my career in Law Enforcement, both on the Brattleboro Police Department and the through my ranks in the Vermont State Police.
We knew the Heroes of jumping and those to come: Art Devlin, Arthur "Art" Tokle, Mezzie Barber, a guy they called "The Flying Dentist" - Dr. Phil Dunham, Hugh Barber (one who would retire the 3 legs of that famous trophy), Bernie Wells and Dana Zelenakas.
We Were Men of Faith!
Prior to going off the jump I use to watch (pretty close) Bill and Joe Bedard. I noticed something that they did every time, before they went off the jump. They would do the "cross their heart" sign. Well, it seemed to work. They never broke any legs or got hurt. So, who was I to question God? I did the same and it worked - I never got hurt!
The faith came when I sprang up, out and over the landing hill - That's when it happened! I always knew that either one ski or two or none would come off in mid air. This made for some very colorful and interesting landings on touch down!
Rick Sets Hospital Hill Record
One Christmas Rick got a brand new pair of skis!
One day we went over to BMH and made a "jump." The trestle started from the side hill right where the ER is now and continued down in a northeasterly direction towards the junction of Maple Street and Southern Avenue.
We built the jump part with a "fairly quick" upgrade angle to it in that the landing was fairly level and we wanted to get maximum distance in flight.
Rick shot down the hill in his tucked position, gather allot of speed, up the jump and then he sprang up and out. There was just one small problem here. He was about six feet from the end of the jump. Springing up prematurely is something that a jumper should never do!
Well, the tips of the skis dipped down and stuck into the jump. From there his body rotated up and over the tips and into the most beautiful "Horizontal Flying Fin" position. He had good height and cleared the end of the jump and some additional 35 feet down the landing.
His landing was not our traditional telemark landing (a Norwegian landing style with one ski ahead of the other). It was a hilarious three point landing. Two tips of the skis and his face into the, fortunately, softly packed snow, burying all points with a three grooved slide to a stop.
I never laughed so much in my life! You know, I don't think that record
has ever been beaten to this day? Probably should record it in the Genus Book of
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