Westby business opens for traveling ski jumper

Local residents host athletes participating in Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament

The Westby Ski Jump attracts athletes from all over the world, meaning many of them need a place to stay. That’s where local residents help out.

The Snowflake Ski Club has a program that pairs local residents with jumpers for the week leading up to the ski tournament.  

Cooper Dodds was born and raised in the state of New Hampshire, and has spent the past few years in New York City working as a photographer.

But this week, he’s calling Westby home.

“This is a unique community that not a lot people know about,” said Dodds.

Cooper went to Carleton College in Minnesota, and before graduating in 2013, spent four years competing at the Westby Snowflake Ski Jumping Competition.

“On Westby’s hill, you can jump pretty far, you can go over 100 meters,” said Dodds.

But since Cooper’s been out of school, he’s focused on his career as a photographer, and now only has time to jump a few times a year.  He hasn’t been to Westby his last year in college.

“What keeps me wanting do it it? The thrill of the flight. It’s really fun,” said Dodds.

This year, he’s made the trip back to Wisconsin, and just as he was in his years before, Cooper was paired with a host family.

“Coming from New York where people give each other a lot of space, you don’t even bump into someone on the street.  Coming into a small town here, a little nervous.  Who am I going to be staying with? What’s that going to be like?” said Dodds.

Cooper would be set up with Ruth Rupp.  She’s the owner of the Logan Mill Lodge in Westby, which has a history with the Westby Ski Jump.

“I can sleep 26 ski jump teams if they have the need for that.” said Rupp.

Rupp’s business first opened 15 years ago, and started hosting ski teams from across the world in it’s first year.

“They asked me if we could host when we first opened the business, 15 years ago, and we did the first year.  It was so much fun, we kept doing it for 10 years,” said Rupp.

That was until the need for housing slowed down, leaving the Logan Mill Lodge without a jumper for the past five years.

“Right now, we’re sleeping 24 people who are here to attend the ski jump,” said Rupp.

That all changed just a few days before the week of the competition.

“When they called and said they had one person that needed a place to stay, it was like yes we have a place for them!” said Rupp.

That person was Cooper.

“When I drove into Westby this year, I drove in and met Ruth and she immediately took me out to dinner. It’s just like that kind of hospitality is fantastic,” said Dodds.

He took over a room on the first floor, giving Ruth that familiar feeling of once again having a pair of skis under her roof.

“We like to help young people that are just getting started in their careers.  We were there 40 years ago.  You don’t have money to go on trips like he’s doing, we just like to help someone that needs a hand to come to Westby and jump the ski hill,” said Rupp.

Cooper has ski jumped across the world, and lives in one of the most diverse cities in the country, but even he admits, there’s no place like Westby, Wisconsin.

“Fantastic environment to jump in front of.  Big crowds, they get loud. It’s really fun,” said Dodds.

“They’re really like your children, in this case, he’s more like a grandchild at this point for me,” said Rupp.

The Westby Snowflake Ski Jump Tournament is on Feb. 5th and Feb. 6th.

For more information, go to http://snowflakeskiclub.com