Leap of faith: Hanover extends tradition of alpinists joining ski jumping team

  • Wes Stocken, left, and Zane Schiffman, right, members of the Hanover High School alpine ski team, wait in line for their first competition jumps at the Roger Burt Ski Jumps while trying out the sport in their senior winter season in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Hanover senior Zane Schiffman leaves the end of the 20 meter ski jump at the Roger Burt Ski Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Schiffman's longest jump for his first ever jumping meet was 17 meters, just a day before his first alpine meet of the season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover jumping coach Tom Dodds advises jumpers Zane Schiffman, left, Eric Ringer, back middle, Lilly Clapp, front middle, and Wes Stocken, right, after their jumps at the Roger Burt Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Hanover skier Zane Schiffman waits for the clear sign to take a jump during a meet at the Roger Burt Ski Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. It was the alpine skier's fourth night trying Nordic jumping. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Hanover skier Wes Stocken lands at 20.5 meters on the 20 meter jump at the Roger Burt Ski Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Stocken set out to jump at least 20 meters during his first meet in the sport, and succeeded, but fell on the landing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Zane Schiffman, left, looks over the final results, held by teammate Charlie Forbush, from their ski jumping meet with Lebanon, Plymouth and Merrimack Valley at the Roger Burt Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Hanover won the meet with 388 points. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Hanover senior Wes Stocken packs up his jumping skis after his first ever meet at the Roger Burt Jumps in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Stocken will compete in his first alpine meet of the season on Friday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/7/2022 9:23:40 PM
Modified: 1/12/2022 8:08:41 PM

HANOVER — Wes Stocken gave ski jumping a try when he was in elementary school. It didn’t go well.

He attempted it through the Ford Sayre Ski Club — at first on his alpine skis and then on proper jump skis. Stocken crashed and gave up ski jumping to focus on downhill.

But a decade later, Stocken is going down the ramp again. He’s competing with Hanover High’s ski jump team and is one of several HHS alpine skiers crossing between the two disciplines.

It’s become an unofficial tradition over the last few years for Hanover’s senior alpine captains to also try ski jumping. Both of this year’s senior captains, Stocken and Zane Schiffman, are on the jump squad.

“I’ve been on (the Hanover alpine skiing) team for four years, and just about every year there’s been at least one captain on the jumping team,” Stocken said. “It’s a tradition because it’s so fun. And for a lot of kids, it takes all four years to get the opportunity. I know (during) some of my earlier years in high school, I wouldn’t have had time for it.”

Along with the captains, senior Eric Ringer is also competing with both alpine and jumping. Freshman Jai Gregory is double-dipping as well, but he’s a freestyle cross country skier and not on the alpine team.

Hanover ski jumping coach Tom Dodds said that as long as jumping doesn’t conflict with alpine training and events, alpine skiing coach Gabriela Formankova doesn’t take issue with the kids competing with both teams.

Dodds recalled that last year’s alpine captains, Teddy Ruth and Pierce Hamlin, also joined his team as first-timers. Hamlin later placed sixth at the state championship meet. Dodds was amazed how quickly he picked up the sport.

“It’s always fun for me to have kind of a cadre of alpine skiers here. You see their engagement and excitement when they break through to the next level, work their way up to bigger jumps and start to really get the feel of ski jumping,” Dodds said. “It’s always fun to bring people along in one or two seasons like that.”

Stocken recently committed to Syracuse University to join the ski team (it’s a club sport there, not varsity) for alpine. He said the subtle technique differences between alpine and jumping are easy to mix up, but he does his best to differentiate them in his mind.

Dodds concurred that first-timers can struggle with that. He said it’s a bigger adjustment from alpine to jumping than many people realize.

“Some of the things you do, particularly when you jump in the air and you get off the ground on alpine skis, actually work against you as a ski jumper. An alpine skier who goes off a jump and ends up in the air will often pull their knees up to get stability, and it’s the worst thing to do in ski jumping,” Dodds said. “They have to unlearn some things to sort of get the knack of this, but the kids we tend to get are skilled enough that they tend to pick it up pretty quickly.”

Dodds said that some of the alpinists experienced some normal tension during their first several jump attempts but, he added, that’s part of the sport’s fabric. Ski jumping provides natural increments to work through the apprehension, with the increasing ramp heights. He said it’s a good life lesson for the kids in attacking their fears.

Stocken, despite his crash at a younger age, didn’t have those nerves when he first retried ski jumping at a practice last year. His alpine experience gave him assurance about jumping.

“I think the one that was the most nervous was my mom,” Stocken said. “I have a lot of confidence on my alpine skis, and that’s where I get my confidence for jumping. I kind of (think), ‘I’ve jumped off a rock this tall before, so I (can) just do that on jumping skis.’ ”

The four dual-discipline skiers competed in their first ski jump meet for Hanover on Thursday evening at the Oak Hill Ski Area against athletes from Merrimack Valley, Plymouth, ConVal and Lebanon. Gregory finished fourth with 103 combined points between his three jumps. Stocken (90.5) came in sixth, Ringer (85.5) seventh and Schiffman (83.5) ninth. Hanover freshman Schuyler Clapp (117) took first place.

Dodds said the group of alpine skiers did remarkably well in their first competition.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well they all executed,” Dodds said. “Each jump was sort of more aggressive; you could see (them) gain confidence with each jump to the point where two of them almost may jump so hard on their last jumps they ended up falling. But that’s sort of par for the course.”

Seth Tow can be reached at sports@vnews.com.




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