Snow making ahead of Iola ski jumping tournament

Ski jump looking downhill at Iola Winter Sports Club, February 1, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

WAUPACA COUNTY (WLUK) -- In western Waupaca County, the snow was flying Thursday, albeit the man-made kind.

Workers at the Iola Winter Sports Club are getting ready for a ski jumping tournament.

It's all part of the 57th annual Winter Carnival celebration.

"We have to make snow of course, because Mother Nature hasn't treated us well so far," said Kevin Hoffman, Iola Winter Sports Club.

Hoffman says the single snow-making machine has been working overtime, trying to cover the landing for Sunday's ski jumping tournament.

"I've been grooming ski trails here at our club for 20 some years, and every year is different. I would say this is one of the worst years," said Phil Johnsrud, Iola Winter Sports Club.

Johnsrud says this is the first time in four years, the club has to make snow.

"We had the capacity to make snow, now about 15 years, more than that. And we've only made, probably about half of those years, we've had to make snow. The warm temperatures and the rain, ruined everything we had. So we had to start over," he said.

About 100 ski jumpers from 10 Midwestern clubs are expected to compete. Each skier will have to climb to the top of the140-foot-tall tower. The jumpers will reach speeds of 40 miles per hour as they glide 200 feet on stainless steel tracks, before flying through the air.

"The profile of the hill theoretically, they're never very far off the ground," said Johnsrud.

Johnsrud says a good landing on the run is about 180 feet. Curiously, It's a sport that neither of the men has tried.

"I cannot imagine. When I'm up working on the jumps and you're looking down, and you can't see the hill that your're going to land on?" asked Johnsrud.

"When you look at it from here, it doesn't look very big. But you get up there, and you look down, and know that you're going to make that run, then it gets a little scary," said Hoffman.

The carnival gets underway Friday night with a fat-bike race at the sports club.

Saturday's events include a traditional lutefisk supper at Iola-Scandinavia High School.

The ski jumping tournament starts Sunday at noon.

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