Up North: Mt. Itasca hosts ski jumpers with eyes on Junior Nationals

Up North: Ski jumping at Mt. Itasca

Up North: Ski jumping at Mt. Itasca

From three-year-olds jumping off tiny hills to late teenagers taking the jump on 40 and 70 meter hills, Mt. Itasca was packed with ski jumpers this past weekend.

While some skiers were there to jump for the first time, others were there for some of the last big runs before the Junior Nationals.

“Most of the kids that will be jumping on the 70 meter today have qualified to go to the Junior nationals, which will be held in Alaska this year,” said Sue Kavanagh, a junior ski jump coordinator and coach of the Itasca Ski and Outing Clubs. “So that’s kind of like their final big thing before they all start packing up to head up there.”

One of the ski jumpers is Gavin Mjolsness, who has been training much of his life in hopes of becoming an international skier.

“I’m actually a fifth generation ski jumper,” said Mjolsness. “It’s been running in my family for a while and I tried it when I was really little, but I was way too scared for it. Then my cousin, when I was about nine, decided to do learn to ski jump day, and I went with him and I stuck with it since.”

Much of the way to master ski jumping is working your way up, from the smallest hills and skiers to the biggest hills with some real impressive skills.

“We do some dryland training, but most of it is just getting the gym time in and just starting small and working your way up to bigger hills and with the more jumps, it just gets easier and easier,” added Mjolsness.

The event, which will see it’s best skiers head to Alaska for Nationals, is certainly about the results. However, it’s the celebration of the sport and the inclusiveness that keeps drawing people back to it.

“My favorite stuff about ski jumping is friends and flying through the air, and having the best coaches ever here,” shared Logan Mackey, a youth ski jumper.

“Go for it, it’s exhilarating,” added Mjolsness. “Like the adrenaline rush, it’s like no other. I love downhill skiing, but it never beats the feeling of flying through the air on a ski jump.”

The ski jumping and nordic combined junior nationals take place from Anchorage, Alaska, from February 27th-March 2nd.