Jump to It: Ishpeming Ski Club Helps Kids Stay Active Through the Winter

The thrill keeps Timothy Ziegler coming back for more.

“There’s really no way you can get quite a rush and no other way that you can fly through the sky like you can ski jumping,” the 14-year-old high school freshman said.

A member of the Ishpeming Ski Club, Ziegler is part of the next generation of a proud tradition in Ishpeming, generally considered the birthplace of organized skiing.

Founded in 1887, the ski club just celebrated 130 years of continuous annual tournaments, making it the longest-running ski competition in the country, according to Gary Rasmussen, the club’s head ski jumping coach.

Kids as young as two ski with the club, often starting on smaller jumps when they’re three. Teens can work their way up to jumping the notorious “Suicide Hill”, a 90-meter ski jump located in Negaunee.

The club hosts youth ski jumping sessions for children ages five and up, lending gear such as boots, skis and helmets so kids can try it without parents needing to cover the start-up costs. Rasmussen visits local schools in the region to recruit young people to check it out, knowing they have many extracurricular activities to choose from.

“It’s critically important to get young athletes involved,” he said. “It’s also a challenge to get young athletes involved – there’s so many options today.”

When they do show interest, the ski club is the place to start. The group has produced pro-level athletes throughout its history, but Rasmussen said identifying future star athletes isn’t the goal. Rather, the club aims to promote recreation and exercise as fun and a healthy part of everyday life.

“Getting your heart pumping and getting your lungs working hard is fun and healthy and that’s what we’re trying to promote the most,” he said.

Ziegler urges other kids to give it a try if there’s a local ski club in their area, noting that “the people you meet skiing are almost always amazing.” He likes to help the younger kids with fundamentals and finds it rewarding when they take their first jump.

“From the speed of the in-run, to the flight in the air, to the landing, there really is nothing else like it. You really need to try it to know it,” he said.

Learn more about the Ishpeming Ski Club at their website or Facebook page.

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Photo credit: Tsutomu Takasu (feature), A Healthier Michigan (thumbnails)

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