Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bloomer Ski Jump

Tomorrow is the 83rd anniversary of the first public ski tournament at the Rochester ski jump. The Hall Brothers of the Detroit Ski Club built the 112-foot steel slide on the brow of Newberry Hill, adjacent to Bloomer State Park. Newspaper accounts of the time said that the combined height of the ski jump and the hill upon which it stood was approximately 230 feet. Construction of the ski jump was barely finished in time for the first scheduled competition on February 1, 1926. The Rochester Clarion reported that between seven and eight thousand tickets were sold to the event, and estimated that an equal number of spectators viewed the tournament from adjacent hilltops.

Sloppy weather on the day of the event shortened the jump distances, and Norwegian-born Anders Haugen, representing a Chicago ski club, won the event with an 85-foot jump. An interesting aside is that Haugen had served as the captain of the U.S. ski team at the first-ever Winter Olympic games which were held in France in 1924. Haugen did not medal in Olympic competition that year - or so he thought. It was not until 50 years later, in 1974, that a historian discovered a mathematical error in the Olympic scores which meant that Haugen had actually placed third and won a bronze medal. He was subsequently awarded the medal he had earned a half-century earlier. (You can read about Haugen's overdue Olympic medal in this New York Times article.)


  1. At age 92, my father, Walter Brown, still remembers vividly his rides on the ski slide at Bloomer State Park. He was one of the original "Rcohester Boys", a group of area fellas who competed in the 1920s and 1930s. Possibly, my father is the last member of this group living. The group included Joe Tessmer, Johnny Tessmer, Bud Rumohr, George Dunlop, Johnny Kinzie and Warren Schlucter. In 1938, my father set a meet record with a jump of 126 feet from the slide. It was the ski jumping that landed my father in the famous 10th Mountain Division of WWII, also know as the "ski troops". Thanks to all of our veterans!

  2. I mentioned this ski jump awhile back to my sister who used to work at Bloomer and she said she didn't know anything about it. I distinctly remembered reading a bulletin board with all kinds of park history though. This all occurred back in the late 80's early 90's, I wonder what happened to it.

  3. The first slide was called the Jr. Slide. The second was called the senior slide. My dad, Jack Smith was a member of the "Rochester Boys" as was my uncle, Joe Smith. I have photos of my dad jumping there, as well as a small film clip.

    1. Where was the Jr. Slide located? If you take the stairs down from the Stone Shelter and go west along the trail there's a steep hill about 1/4 of a mile away. Is this it?