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Meet the Athletes: Ski Jumpers in the Eastern USA

Masters (The Old Boys)
Still at it, after all these years!

Bob Hein of Drexel Hill PA (b. April 8, 1922; d. May 9, 2011), a regular for decades at Bear Mt., probably ski jumped in more competitions than any other U.S. skier in history. He skied at seven straight International Masters Championships from 1990 to 1996 and every U.S. Masters Age Group Championship from 1982 to 1997, winning several gold medals at both levels. Bob started jumping as a young lad in Ironwood, MI and would happily show you medals he won during the 1930's. He announced his retirement for the final time in 2001 and died in 2011.

 
( Scroll down for the newer "Old Boys".)


Mark, Bob, Pete, Don Mark Levasseur, Bob Hein, Peter Claus, Don West
on a sparkling day at Gunstock, Laconia, NH (1999)

Earle's face Earle Murphy of Lake Placid NY (b. June 9, 1927) was a multi-sport athlete in high school and college. He began jumping after finishing college and enjoyed a long jumping career. He improved fast enough to be invited to ski in the 1959 pre-Olympic event in Squaw Valley, CA. He returned to Squaw Valley in 1976 to win one of his two U.S. National Masters big hill titles. Late in his career, he won eight National Age Group crowns. With Guttorm Bakke of Norway, Earle started the International Masters Championships (IMC) and chaired the International masters Ski Jumping Committee which oversees these Championships. He won several medals at the IMC before retiring due to a muscle degeneracy disease. There are reports that he put on his skis last March and skied as a guest in the Russian National Masters Championships.

Don jumping Don West of Plattsburgh NY (right, b. July 1, 1937) started ski jumping in Madison WI with the Blackhawk Ski Club. He moved east in 1965 and was a fixture at Eastern jumping meets ever since. He has won several gold medals at the International Masters Championships and the U.S. Masters Age Group Championship, and was many times Eastern Masters (veterans) champion during the 1970's. Finally, in 1999 for the first time, he added the National big hill title to his record. Don retired in Jan 2011 after taking gold at the Masters Nationals in Madison. He created and maintains these web pages.
Murphy & West were honored at the 2008 Eastern Championships on Salisbury when Mark Levasseur (see below) announced the establishment of the Earle Murphy and Don West Award, to be given each year to the Eastern Masters champion.

Larry Welch (left) of Scarboro ME was a promising junior jumper growing up in Lyndonville VT, but he never jumped as a senior. He came back to the sport at age thirty Mark and Larry and won two National big hill crowns and two National age group titles. Larry dominated Eastern Masters jumping for several season, winning three Eastern Masters Championships, but he has not jumped for several years now. Larry's son Brian competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (the jumps are in Park City).

Mark Levasseur of Worcester MA was a ski jumping child prodigy, flying off big hill takeoffs at the age of ten. As a teenager, Mark committed all of his efforts to professional hockey. After retirement from hockey, he returned to ski jumping. You will not see a more graceful jumper on the hill! Mark has completed the qualification process and has become a very acive ski jumping judge, but we hope that we will see him on his skis as well as in the judges stand.

Jon Farnham was a very good junior jumper in Lebanon NH and when his boys Jon, Jr. and Brian started jumping, Dad found some skis and joined them on the hill. It didn't take long for Jon to regain his jumping skills and he became Eastern Masters champion in both 1998, 1999 and 2003. With huge energy and enthusiasm, Jon has thrown himself back into the sport as jumper, coach, facility developer and organizer. A man of many talents, Jon is occasionally called on at the start of a competition to deliver his unique harmonica rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Tom Dodds directs the ski jumping program of the Ford Sayre Ski Club, Hanover NH. As his two boys and the other Ford Sayre skiers developed, Tom couldn't resist joining them and he is now a regular in the masters class on hills up to 50 meter size. Tom and Jon Farnham go way back; they were classmates from Kindergarten through grade 12 as well as team mates for Ford Sayre. Tom has returned to the Upper Valley as a staff doctor at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

For a number of years it was typical to see just one or two jumpers in Masters Class at Eastern competitions, but in 2007 we saw four at Salisbury, five in the Empire State Games, and six Masters in the annual 50 meter competition at Storrs Hill in Lebanon. The reason why Lebanon had the most is that Lebanon is currently a hotbed of Masters jumping with a mix of resumed jumpers and adult beginners. Jon Farnham teamed up with Lebanon Old Boys Bill Ryan and Dan Brown at the 2006 National Masters Championship in St. Paul, MN.

Team East at St. Paul
Team East (L-R): Jon Farnham, Don West, Dan Brown, Bill Ryan.

 

Matt McKenney The next year, the LOC Masters Traveling Team added Matt McKenney (left) to compete at the 2007 Masters Nationals in Iola, WI.

Here is a group of five masters who competed in a summer jump at Lebanon. Mark Breen (#16 below), who represented the U.S. at the 1986 World Junior Championships, resumed jumping in the summer of 2006 after a 20 year break. Mark is undefeated at the Eastern Championships, winning the Eastern Masters crown in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 & 2012.

Five Masters at Lebanon
(L-R): Mark Breen, Jon Farnham, Dan Brown, Ryan Crawford, Bill Ryan.

 

Jon "Cannonball" Farnham likes to remind people that, in Lebanon at least, Masters is the fastest growing sector of the ski jumping sport.

 
Next, find out what Eastern Ski Clubs carry on the ski jumping sport, or go back to meet:


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