Saturday, June 11, 2016
I found the slides for today's "Anything Goes Saturday" a few years ago while digging through a box of random images. I immediately recognized the distinctive Neoclassical architecture of Chicago's "Soldier Field", but what in the world is going on with that gigantic ski jump?!
After a little online research, I discovered that the photos are from the summer of 1954, when the Norge Ski Club hosted an exhibition and competition of ski jumping, which had become popular thanks to the Olympics. Some sources said that there were not only traditional ski jumps; they also included thrilling tricks such as two jumpers side-by-side.
How about a souvenir hat?
I am breaking out in a cold sweat just looking at that rickety structure! It was 148 feet tall, built by Gilco Scaffolding of Des Plaines. Apparently there were high winds on the actual day of competition (as evidenced by the flag to the left) and only 3 skiers jumped from the top. After that, they started from a lower level. Imagine having to trudge up that ramp, skis in hand, with the winds from Lake Michigan whipping around you. Yikes.
Here we can see two jumpers side by side! The ramp was covered with 200 tons of ground ice - I found a photo of a man dumping a wheel barrow full of the stuff, and pictured guys like him having to haul heavy loads of the "snow" up that long incline.
I might as well share that photo. No fancy-pants snow machines here. Just hard work!
Check out this wonderful view, with a skiier in mid-jump. The stands are virtually empty, so I am hoping that these photos were taken during a rehearsal. They did similar exhibitions in 1936, 1937, and 1938; the attendance for the 1937 event was around 60,000 people!