Iron Mountain, MI, Feb. 16, 2001--Every mid-February ski jumpers from around the world gather at the Pine Mountain Ski Jump in Iron Mountain, Michigan to challenge the hill and try to break the records.
Last year, Pine Mountain hosted a World Cup event; this year it's a Continental Cup event on Feb. 17-18. Many of the Continental Cup jumpers competing at Pine Mountain will wind up on future Olympic teams. According to Cup officials, they literally won't know who the jumpers will be until the day before the event, but in 1999's Pine Mountain Continental Cup competitors from the United States and twelve other nations took to the giant slide.
The Pine Mountain ski slide is one of the highest artificial ski jumps in the world, measuring 1,032 feet from the top of the scaffold to the end of the landing area. Jumpers rocket from the 10-story scaffold at speeds of 55 miles per hour onto a landing hill with a 39-degree pitch that leads to an outrun the length of 4 city blocks.
Records at the Pine Mountain jump have been shattered or matched 16 times, beginning in 1939 when Bob Roecker set a North American best of 257 feet. Most recently, Masahiko Harada of Japan posted a 459-foot beauty in 1996 that was both a U.S. and international record at the time.
The Pine Mountain Continental Cup is not only a top international test for skiers, it's also one of the best spectator events in all of North American skiing. Photography buffs are encouraged to bring their cameras for great action shots. Booths and tents line the hill, a heated Exposition building is at the base of the complex, and tailgate parties are the order of the day. Yearly, fan attendance hovers around the 20,000 mark, indicating a don't-miss ski celebration.
Admission at the gate is $20 for adults and $15 for juniors (11-17 years of age), which garners the buyer a button good for both days of the event. Children 10 and under are free. Sunday only both adults and juniors get in for $12.
For more information call the Tourism Association of the Dickinson County Area at 800-236-2447; on the web go to http://www.exploringthenorth.com/skijump/event.html orhttp://www.ironmountain.org