Satre Hill shines in Jumpfest 2024

Youth jumpers rested before launching from the 20-meter hill on Saturday morning.

Riley Klein

Satre Hill shines in Jumpfest 2024

Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s (SWSA) 98th annual Jumpfest was a resounding success.

The three-day winter tradition went off without a hitch.

Friday’s opening night under the lights began with high expectation in the air as cars slowly filled the parking field next to Indian Cave Road. Car headlights guided everyone to a ticket booth, but from there on the way to Satre Hill was a footlighted walk through the dark.

Muffled voices could be overheard talking excitedly about what was to come, and parents kept track of children who wanted to run ahead.

The scene at Jumpfest was like a stage-lit happening. There were EMS trucks at the ready flanked by food and beverage setups. Twin bonfires lighted the scene and provided warmth. A booming voice over the loudspeaker keep everybody on schedule as the evening events unfolded, beginning with Target jumping at 7 p.m. for a couple of dozen contenders.

“On the hill,” was the cry from the observation post near the bottom of the jump, signaling that a jumper was on the way down.

Cowbells added to the mix and even triggered some happy revelers to yell out “More cowbell,” in a reference to the “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken.

The Target Jump, viewed as a warm-up run to the main event on Sunday, was won by Cooper Dodds of Lebanon, New Hampshire, who hit the paint at 65 meters. Dodds won $500 in prize money donated by the Churchill family.

After some time assembling their getups and sledding rigs, several teams competed in the Human Dog Sled Race, a 200-yard round-trip course that typically results in some wipeouts at the turn.

Hooting and hollering and bent-over laughing punctuated the sidelines as onlookers watched, hoisting a brewski or hot toddy for their favorite team.

By 10 p.m., the voice on the loudspeaker called it a night and thanked the hundreds who came on opening night.

Saturday’s full menu of events was met with blue skies and crisp winter air. Youth jumping began on the 20-meter hill with contestants ranging in age from 5 to 17.

More cowbell rattling filled the air as each jumper prepared for launch. Cheers and applause erupted as the young athletes soared.

The cook shack crew and Low-N-Slow food truck served up fresh meals to attendees and hungry athletes as the first round of competition wrapped up.

Jumpers climbed the 30-meter tower next for the final Jumpfest from that particular launch. A capital campaign to replace the wood jump with a steel tower is underway and a new K30 ramp will be built in the coming year.

The Salisbury Invitational followed for an afternoon of high-flying competition on the Big Hill. Crowds grew larger for the premiere contest of the day and surrounded the landing zone beneath the 65-meter jump.

Pallet-fueled bonfires kept spectators warm as the sun slipped beneath the tree line and shade set in at Satre Hill. Beer, wine and hot toddies helped fight the cold, too.

Once the jumping was complete, Saturday’s festivities ended with the Snow Ball at the Grove in Lakeville.

Sunday afternoon was sunny and pleasant without much wind. Spectators who opted for muck boots were vindicated, as the ground by the various food and merchandise stands was thoroughly muddy.

Joe Geraghty and Vanessa O’Connor were doing good business selling SWSA merchandise. Geraghty said he would consider it a successful day if he came in with five bins of goods and left with one, and was on track for that result.

Anna Pattison at the cook shack confirmed what a reporter suspected — the SWSA bratwurst, with or without fried onions or sauerkraut, was the big seller.

A pickup truck on loan from the town crew stood ready to take ski jumpers back up the hill. One by one, an endless series of youngsters, sleek in their jumping clothing, piled in the pickup bed with their skis until it seemed impossible to get any more in.

But it wasn’t. “Somebody carry this kid in their lap,” said a man, hoisting a diminutive skier up and in.

Before the trial jumps began, the call went out on the loudspeaker for measurers. Mat Kiefer stood facing a circle of volunteers, advising those new to the experience to buddy up with veterans.

Outside the immediate Satre Hill area, the parking lot was completely jammed and people were parking wherever they could, including Railroad Street.

Jumpfest 2024 was well attended with roughly 600 guests on Friday, 1,400 guests on Saturday, and 1,350 guests on Sunday. Additionally, an estimated 1,000 children under age 12 took part in the weekend fun at Satre Hill.

Randy O’Rourke

Caroline Chor, above, placed third in the U12 female competition with 122.9 points. Ford Sayre’s Ava Joyal took second with 102.8 points, and Leila Fey of New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) won with 144.5 points.

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