Milan ski jump picked for role in promotion, future as historic site

Union Leader Correspondent
September 14. 2016 10:58PM
The state Bureau of Historic Sites is working with Red Bull Media to restore the Nansen Ski Jump, shown here on Wednesday, and to have it featured in a Red Bull promotion for Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

MILAN — Champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, coming off an injury last season, will mark her recovery by catching air off the Nansen Ski Jump in December.

Located along Route 16, a short distance north of Berlin, the 80-meter jump was built in 1936 and was the scene of the first Olympic trials in 1938. In its heyday, it was one of the largest and premier jumps in the U.S. In use until 1988, the ski jump subsequently fell into disrepair.

It was never forgotten, however. About two years ago, the dialogue between its many supporters and Ben Wilson, the director of the state’s Bureau of Historic Sites, started ramping up.

A North Country newspaper reported the development, and the story was eventually picked up nationally and ended up in the Los Angeles Times. That’s where the folks at Red Bull Media saw it and decided that the rehabilitation of the Nansen Ski Jump — albeit in a very limited way — could serve as a perfect metaphor for Hendrickson.

The skier injured her knee last season, but has set her eyes on competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Born and raised in Utah, Hendrickson, the 2012 World Cup champion, has connections to the Granite State through her parents, both of whom grew up in Plymouth.

Last November, Hendrickson came to the Nansen Ski Jump and was impressed, as was Red Bull Media, which has committed to donate $15,000 toward the cost of a structural and engineering study of the jump.

Company representatives were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

In addition to Red Bull Media, Wilson said the other partners in the Nansen project are the Nansen Ski Club and the Friends of the Nansen Ski Jump.

The goal of the $100,000 effort is to turn the ski jump into an interpretive historic site — but not an active ski jump, except for Hendrickson’s one-time use in December, weather permitting — and then to have it designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.

Wilson said the ski jump’s steel structure was “in amazing condition.” The wooden planking of the deck would have to be replaced.

“It’s an amazing site. The jump stands there much in the way the Statue of Liberty does in New York Harbor,” said Wilson. “The statue represents the melting pot of America and the ski jump represents the melting pot that was and is the Berlin, Milan, Gorham area.”

HistoryNH PeopleTourismMilan

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