Flying High Again: After Some Down Years, Marauders Aim High
Hanover’s Asher Brown takes to the air during last night’s ski jumping meet at Storrs Hill in Lebanon. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover skiers, from left, Asher Brown, Jack Pattison, Al Tariot, Mike Mayo and Lydia Vogt watch another jumper’s skis fly by last night. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — After a couple of subpar seasons, ski jumping appears to be gaining traction once again at Hanover High.
From its salad days of the 1970s, when Marauder jumpers helped the team win seven straight NHIAA boys skiing titles, to a run of four titles in five years from 2003-08, Hanover ski jumping accolades are steeped in a tradition of success.
Yet even a juggernaut has its down spells, and the Marauders in recent years had fallen victim to low participation by their own standards.
Two winters ago, Hanover carried just seven athletes, but they’ve more than doubled that this season with 16.
Hanover is off to a strong start to boot, winning the season opener at Proctor Academy last week and following up last night with a 385.5-368.5 win over runner-up Hopkinton at Lebanon’s Storrs Hill Ski Area.
The meet was hosted by Sunapee at Storrs Hill because of poor conditions at the Lakers’ home hill in Newport. Lebanon High doesn’t have a team due to lack of sufficient interest for the fourth straight season.
At Hanover, some athletes are introduced to the sport through the Ford Sayre Ski Council youth program.
“In the last two or three years, we’ve seen a significant rise (in participation),” said Hanover coach Tom Dodds, a 1975 Hanover grad who was on teams that won state titles during all four of his high school seasons. “We have as many kids now as we did when I skied in the ’70s. I can’t even keep track of all of them.”
Ski jumping’s breadth appears to be increasing across New Hampshire, the only U.S. state to offer ski jumping as a public high school sport. Last night’s meet featured six teams with at least seven athletes and a total of 63, an increase from the 47 from the same number of teams at a meet hosted by Hanover at Storrs Pond Recreation Area two years ago.
“I told the kids, the meets we hold are probably the largest gatherings in North America, in terms of the (number of) ski jumpers,” said Dodds. “There are club ski events all over, but I don’t think any of them have 60-70 athletes. What we see with this sport in New Hampshire is pretty interesting.
“I think it’s the eclectic nature of the sport (that draws athletes). It attracts the kids who want to try something new.”
That includes senior Angad Singh, who took up the sport last year. A longtime alpine skier who works as a part-time ski patrolman at Storrs Hill, Singh took up the sport after deciding to stop playing hockey. He’s still working on his technique, falling during his first jump of 16 meters last night and then crashing at the end of his second jump of just 10.5 meters.
“A lot of this sport is mentally anticipating what you’re about to do,” Singh said. “I work out five days a week and have really strong legs to push off with, but this sport is so much more than physical. I’m still learning that part of it, but this is a great sport to have offered and to take advantage of.”
Seniors Parker Gardner and Jesse Brown began taking advantage two years ago, when they joined the team having never ski jumped before. Though the team’s numbers were low, their enthusiasm remained and they’re co-captains this year.
Gardner placed third overall last night and tied the longest jump of the evening with a lunge of 21 meters on his second run.
“The good thing about ski jumping is that there’s not that much of a learning curve,” Gardner said. “I think (Brown and I) both caught on pretty quickly, and we’ve seen the program grow in the time we’ve been here. A lot of people came out to support us at the home meets last year, and we expect the same this season.”
Fast learning curve of not, it takes courage to launch through the air with only skis to break the fall. Senior Lydia Vogt had some trepidation when she first started, but got over it fast.
“It’s a little scary at first, of course,” she said. “But once you let the adrenaline take over, you’re fine.”
Hanover placed five in the top 10 while winning its second straight meet to start the season.
Gardner and Nathan Roth tied for third place overall with 97 points each, with Gardner’s second-run lunge of 21 meters tying Sunapee’s Kevin Parsons (first place; 101 points) and Hopkinton’s Ian McClusky (second; 97.5) for the longest run of the day.
Carl Keating (fifth; 92) and Ethan Winter (sixth; 91) rounded out the scorers for the Marauders, while Asher Brown (ninth; 87) also cracked the top 10.
Hanover junior Erika Tischbein (31st overall) was second among girls with 79 points.
The Marauders host a pair of meets this month, the first coming Jan. 18.
Team Scores: 1. Hanover 385.5; 2. Hopkinton 368.5; 3. Plymouth 360; 4. Sunapee 359.5; 5. Kennett 336; 6. Concord 311.5; 7. Bishop Brady 78; 8. Derryfield 76.
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.