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A Vision Realized: Heistad’s Hopes for Storrs Hill Ski Jump Closer to Fruition

  • Ben Emery, of Burlington, Vt., launches from the 50-meter jump at Storrs Hill in Lebanon, N.H., during a Junior Nationals qualifying event on Jan. 28, 2018. The jump now has metal tracks instead of snow, allowing for predictable tracking and planned year-round use. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Caleb Zuckerman, 12, of Norwich, Vt., takes the ceremonial first jump at the rededication of the 50-meter structure at Storrs Hill in Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 28, 2018. Metal tracks were installed at the ski hill's two jumps, allowing for eventual year-round use. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Teddy Ruth, 15, of Hanover, N.H., places his skis in steel tracks before taking a practice run from the 50-meter jump before a Junior Nationals qualifying event at Storrs Hill in Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 28, 2018. The metal tracks on the ski area's two jumps allow for competitions in unseasonably warm weather when the snow would melt from the jumps. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Judges, from left, John Fulton, of Concord, N.H., Will Smith, of Lebanon, N.H., and Roland Trombly, also of Lebanon, watch practice runs before a Junior Nationals qualifying event on the 50-meter jump at Storrs Hill in Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2018. Built in 1954, the jump is named for Erling Heistad, who started the Lebanon Outing Club in 1922 and is buried in a plot bordering the ski hill at Glenwood Cemetery. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • From left, Sven Heistad, of Rindge, N.H, Per Heistad, of Newton, Mass., and their father Erling Heistad, of Lebanon, N.H., talk about the newly-installed metal tracks on the 50-meter jump at Storrs Hill in Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2018. Erling Heistad's father started the Lebanon Outing Club in 1922 and his family has carried on the tradition and love for ski jumping. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Matthew Tourville, 8, of Canaan, N.H., watches the Junior Nationals qualifying on the 50-meter ski jump at Storrs Hill in Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 28, 2018. Tourville competed earlier in the day on the 10-meter jump and placed second. His father, Ed Tourville, is a jumping coach at the ski area. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, January 28, 2018

Lebanon — It was only fitting that the Heistad family once again be honored now that the Storrs Hill Ski Area and the Lebanon Outing Club are closer than ever to fulfilling the complete ski jumping dream of the late LOC founder Erling Heistad.

Progress in the form of newly installed metal tracks on the inruns of the hill’s 25- and 50-meter jumps was on display during Sunday’s Junior National qualifying event, the first of two Storrs Hill will host this winter. The Outing Club, the nonprofit organization that has managed the city-owned ski area since 1986, sold the upgrade as the hill’s first step toward being able to offer year-round training and eliminate the need for tedious snowmaking and grooming maintenance on the LOC’s limited staff. The Heistad family was honored before the meet in a rededication of the LOC’s commitment to the sport in their founder’s name.

Cory Grant, the four-year LOC president, said the improvements have completely changed what the hill can offer ski jumpers. Last year, the snow-packed inruns took days to create and often melted under warm temperatures. This winter, Storrs has maintained a consistent ski jumping schedule with few issues to the ramps.

“That jump (the 50-meter), I kid you not, was only used once a year,” said Grant, of Enfield. “That’s how it was used. I think last year, we jumped it about three times. Already this year, we have jumped that jump for four weeks straight on every Monday and every Wednesday.

“I feel like this is our turning point for ski jumping this year, to let everyone know we’re in it and we’re in it for a while,” he added.

Storrs Hill originally dedicated the 50-meter jump to Heistad, who helped design the facility’s two jumps, in 1954. His family, including his son, Erling Harlan Heistad, and grandsons, Per and Sven, were all in attendance for the rededication ceremony, which involved a ribbon cutting and a few words.

“It was (Heistad’s) vision and efforts that started the LOC in 1923, and it is his mission that we continue to pursue with all we do here,” Grant said to the crowd. “Over the years, there have been many ups and downs but, through changes in leadership over the decades, the LOC has always tried to follow through on the Heistad family dream.”

Added Erling Harlan Heistad: “Let’s keep ski jumping alive in the Upper Valley.”

Upgrades to the hill’s jumps, Grant said, have already had the desired effect, bringing regional interest to what the LOC president believes are the only metal-track jumps in New England, if not the East Coast. For jumpers in the region, the upgrades have made Storrs Hill a training destination to help them compete on future national stages.

“It’s definitely reassuring,” said Cameron Forbush, 12, of Norwich, a Ford Sayre Ski Council jumper who has been involved in the sport since the second grade and was the first jumper to try out Storrs Hill’s metal tracks this winter. “Ice tracks (the hand-carved guides used before the aligned metal ones) can be wavy and a little sketchy. So these are nice. I like them.”

Added fellow jumper Caleb Zuckerman, 12, of Norwich: “Sometimes, the tracks aren’t set too well and you worry about your ski coming out of the track. That really takes that part away from it.”

The improvements also allow jumping events to go off smoothly without having to worry about melted snow and ice on warmer winter days.

“It makes a huge difference,” added Zuckerman, who followed the Heistad ceremony with an honorary jump. “On a day like today, if there were no steel tracks, we wouldn’t be jumping. Or we would have to take all the snow around here, in the woods and everything, and bring it up onto the tower.”

For Erling Harlan Heistad, seeing the LOC reinvest in ski jumping is an encouraging dedication to his father.

“The really neat thing is to see one generation take over for the next generation,” he said.

Grant and the LOC aren’t done, either. The tracks, which cost about $14,000 between purchase and installation, are step one in a multi-year, multi-step process to make ski jump training a year-round activity. The next step, Grant said, is to regrade the landing zones for an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 this summer. After that, the LOC hopes to install plastic covering on the landing zone for summer use, and a protective covering for the winter — an estimated $160,000 price tag that Grant hopes he can avoid.

“Lebanon Outing Club, in order to keep ski jumping alive, had to take the first step,” he said. “By putting the tracks on, I feel like we’ve completed and made that first step. … Ski jumping around here kind of died for a while. Even though we had the jumps, they were never really used. That was one of biggest things I’ve done since I became president was, if we’re not going to use the jumps, we’re taking them down. It’s a liability. That ruffled some people’s feathers.

“The (new) tracks had to be done, not only for the jumping community but also for the Lebanon Outing Club and the kids. The future of ski jumping, that’s what they need. We have (the jumps) here. Let’s use them.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.