Holy flying squirrels, that was nuts!
I enlisted the help of two-time Olympian Todd Wilson to coach me over a ski jump at Howelsen Hill here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
In a nutshell: Boy, those Olympic-sized jumps make the Super Slides I loved when I was a kid look like toddler’s slide at the neighborhood park. Thankfully, I didn’t go off one of those.
Ski jumping is all about progression, and I started on the tiniest of jumps, one that stood maybe a foot high on a gently sloping hill.
Even that looked a little threatening from my vantage point, though. (Try standing at the top of a hill and looking down at a jump when you can’t see the landing.) But Wilson walked me through the procedure – assume the tuck position skiing up to the jump, lock knees and ankles when you’re airborne, and absorb the shock when you land.
A bunch of kids were riding a moving sidewalk up the hill, watching me sweat out the moments leading up to my first attempt.
“Are you going off that jump?” one of them asked.
“Yep, I’m trying,” I told the 5-year-old.
“Well, we’re doing that big jump over there,” he told me. “And we’re only in second grade.”
We did the tiniest hill six or seven times, then moved up a step, to the not-quite-as-tiny jump. That frayed my nerves a bit, but I conquered it too, with Wilson’s help.
“Ski jumping is like hitting a golf ball off a flatbed truck going 60 mph, and you have to hit the ball when you pass a sign on the side of the road. And if you miss, something throws you off the truck,” he told me.
It’s all about commitment. Once you start down the in-run, the chute leading to the jump, you can’t snow plow, try to slow down or turn off. You’re doing it.
And I did. I screamed, freaked out a little inside my head, and did it.
And it was awesome.
Story coming soon.