A day on the jumping hill | VailDaily.com

A day on the jumping hill

Allen R. Smith

In preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics, a new ski jumping and bobsled complex was carved out of a mountain in Park City. Olympic Park, as it is now called, opened its training facilities to the public so that people could experience the thrill of Olympic victory for themselves. Needless to say, a few of us from the ski school just couldn’t resist.The first jump was a K5 jump. Only about a foot high, K5 means that the jumper typically jumps the safe distance of 5 meters. Being new to the sport, I didn’t own the proper equipment, so I elected to jump “Golande,” using an old pair of straight alpine skis, alpine bindings, boots and, of course, the required helmet.The next jump was the K10. Feeling more confident, I practiced my tuck, my landing and started envisioning myself on TV, sailing high above the crowd in the signature “V” position.I continued to move through a series of progressively more difficult jumps, advancing to the K40. On my first attempt, I flew 36 meters (more than 118 feet) at over 30 mph. I could feel the aerodynamic lift under my skis as the imaginary crowd roared in the background.After hiking back to the top, the hill captain called “40 clear” and it was time for my second jump. I dropped into my tuck, low and deep and began accelerating down the ramp. I waited for the critical moment and then, popped forward.As I flew high over the arena, I realized that I was missing something: my skis! My mind began racing through all the possible outcomes of my dilemma. Anticipating at least a 100-foot jump, I began playing out various survival options. My first impulse was to land feet first as if jumping into a swimming pool. After thinking through the process – feet, knees, sudden stop, broken legs – I elected to work on Plan B.I stretched my arms out as if I was sliding headfirst, on my chest, into home plate. After a hard landing, I eventually came to a stop, bruised but not broken.On the sidelines watching the calamity unfold, was a group of Japanese tourists, in town early for the Games. They applauded wildly while nodding to each other. Shaking his head, the grandfather said to his grandsons, “Those crazy Americans. They’ll try anything to win!”- Tim Sattelmeier, Park City, UtahVail, Colorado

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