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Volunteers prepare for 90th annual Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament

WESTBY, Wis. - In less than two weeks 6,000 spectators will head to Westby to watch one of the region's biggest ski jumping tournaments: the 90th annual Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament.

This two-day tournament brings in about 30 skiers from all over the world including Canada, Finland, Sweden and Slovakia.

But before they arrive, everything from the tournament schedule to the hill jump and the snow itself, has to be set and ready.

And that can only be made possible by hundreds of hours of hard work from volunteers.

As the snow-maker outside works to cover the Snowflake Ski Club in Westby, Trgve Thompson keeps a watchful eye across the street in the clubhouse.

"Every couple of hours I go over there and make sure it's not frozen (and) everything is working," said Thompson.

Thompson is donating his time to make this year's annual Snowflake Ski Jumping tournament a success.

Thompson has volunteered every year for the past four decades.


"It's just been a long time," said Thompson. "Let's just say a long time."

He's done just about every job there is, from making the snow to maintaining the bonfires.

"Just about anything within reason for an old fart like me," said Thompson.

The tournament, the high-flying skiers and the thousands of spectators are just some of the things that keep him coming back every year.

"It's just fun," said Thompson. "I get to meet people from pretty much all over the world."

Thompson is one of the 30 volunteers that is helping make the event possible.

And the public relations manager for the club, Scott Yttri, said the volunteers have been the backbone of the event since it began 90 years ago.

"It's our heritage," said Yttri. "All of us sit down there in the clubhouse and wonder why we have to put on the clothes and do what we do, and our fathers before us did it and our aunts and uncles, so it's kind of in our blood. It's just the Norwegian way."

Yttri is anticipating a great tournament this year to match last year's success. He said this year the cold weather is on their side.

"We just about didn't get it off because of the warm weather, but the hill held up there and we got a good tournament last year," said Yttri. "So we're looking for a great tournament. The skiers, they'll be here in the area around Thursday next week for the Friday night Saturday jump."

The event is something Thompson looks forward to every year, and while he said he pretty much lives and breathes it, there is one thing he won't do.

Putting on a uniform is as close as he gets to actually jumping down the hill.

"That's as close as I get, yeah," said Thompson. "Take my word for it, it doesn't fit that well."

Thompson said helping with the Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament runs in the family.

Thompson's father helped back in the day, Thompson currently does and his son is a judge for the tournament.

The tournament is set to take place February 1-2.

For more information on details and times head to snowflakeskiclub.com.

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