Itasca Ski and Outing Club helping kids prepare for Junior Nationals

Itasca Ski and Outing Club helping kids prepare for Junior Nationals

The Itasca Ski and Outing Club is having a tournament this weekend, and helping kids prepare for Junior Nationals competition in Alaska.

The Itasca Ski and Outing Club brings the Olympics sport of ski jumping to folks throughout northern Minnesota. This weekend’s tournament will play a critical role in which ski jumpers will qualify for Junior Nationals. But how big of a role ski jumping is for kids in the Northland?

Sue Kavanagh, is the Junior ski jump coordinator and coach of the Itasca Ski and Outing Clubs. She said many kids haven’t been able to try a lot of ski jumps this season.

“This has been a very, very rough winter. We are fortunate right now to still have snow because we make it, but there’s competitions at every club and there’s only been three that could do it. There’s been so many cancellations,” Kavanagh said.

The Itasca Ski and Outing Club is preparing kids of all ages for the Junior Nationals competition. Some of the runs include going down a small 8ft jump to huge undertakings like the 70ft jump.

“We have kids that are on a travel team and we travel to these other venues,” Kavanagh said. “We’ve only been able to go to three places. So we are the final and right now we are the only place anyone can ski in the Central Division. There’s no snow anywhere.”

Some of the ski jumpers that will be competing in the Junior Nationals are from Itasca and Cloquet. Gavin Mjolsness, has competed in two other junior nationals and is hoping to ski jump internationally.

“It’s been rough. There hasn’t been many tournaments around with this weather. Like there was only two tournaments and you usually have five,” Mjolsness said. “So we’re lucky to have a tournament here this this year. We stripped the tracks up on the tops or jumping on porcelain tracks instead of ice, But it’s not bad.”

While some ski jumpers are competing in Junior Nationals, other ski jumpers like Logan Mackey ski jump for the thrill of going off the jumps.

“My favorite stuff about ski jumping is friends and flying through the air. Also having the best coaches ever here,” Mackey said. “Just don’t be scared and just have fun.”

Many ski jumpers start off young, Piper started just last year at four years old. Now she’s getting better with help from coaches and her older brothers who also ski jump. She hopes one day she can go down the 70ft jump, but for now she’ll stick with the 8ft and 15ft jumps.

For more information on the Itasca Ski and Outing Club you can read more here. Although for more information about Mt. Itasca you can read more here. Also for other stories about skiing you can read more here.