Jumping into the future

Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 3:17 PM CST
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Top ski jumpers from around the world are in Iron Mountain, Michigan this weekend to compete in one of the great traditions held each year in the Upper Midwest.

For the past 81 years, the Pine Mountain Ski Jump has hosted events and become a pillar in Iron Mountain community.

"I've been here almost 40 years steady and it's just a thing, in this area it's just a huge endeavor, huge thing to do. The skiers love it, from Europe, they just love this hill, it's got a lot of pressure, a lot of air and the crowd here, it's a big crowd for a Continental Cup, much bigger here than anything in Europe," says Nick Blagec, Kiwanis Ski Club President.

Hosting ski jump events here since 1939, the Kiwanis Ski Club was informed a few years ago by the International Ski Federation that it had a big decision to make on the hill it owns and operates.

"We had three, one year temporary certificates to have these tournaments, but we ran out of time, so it's either get her done or do something else," says Blagec.

So the Ski Club got busy, became a non-profit, and launched a 3.8 million dollar fundraising campaign to make the upgrades it needs to.

"We have to do a lot more work on the tower this spring and summer which is going to happen and the landing hill will have to be changed also, and we have to put in a separate tower next to the original tower for a warming shack to keep the skiers warm, got to be up to code," says Blagec.

Sponsors of this weekend's Continental Cup say there was little doubt the Ski Club would find a way to continue this Upper Michigan tradition.

"Investing in the hill itself to meet the criteria, they've been looking at grants and loans and finding other funding sources and the community certainly supports the event because of what it does for the community, brings in a lot of revenue," says Linda Roethle, Bellin Health Vice President of Regional Business Development.

The weekend competition also brings in a lot of fans, as in 20,000 expected tomorrow, and thanks to the Kiwanis Ski Club, for years to come.

"We're hard workers and that's important," says Blagec with a smile.

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