February 16, 2013
Lebanon Outing Club
Storrs Hill, Lebanon NH
The last Masters Championship in the east was held on the Lebanon K-50 meter hill back in 1995 but only nine skiers showed up, all from the Eastern Division, so the Masters Committee ruled that subsequent Championships would be held in the Central Division -- until now. In recent years even the Central events were attracting less than ten skiers. Indeed in 2011 we had six competitors in the Nationals in Madison and the very next day, Lebanon had seven Masters in their annual meet, so we decided to come back to the east for 2013.
Organizer Jon Farnham (right) hoped to make this a stand-alone event with only Masters jumping but the entry list was too small for a Masters-only meet so shortly before the event, Jon added a low-key junior meet to the program. Mixing the young kids and Masters together gave the Old Boys a few more minutes to climb up the hill for their next jump.
Farnham promised three hills in perfect condition but preparations were complicated when a huge snowstorm dumped feet of snow all over New England just a week before the Championships. Friday, the day before the event, was very, very warm but the temperature dropped over night, then warmed again into pleasant low thirties for competition day. As promised, the hills were in good condition and the Masters skied three hills without a single fall.
Dr. John Conley was the only Master jumper to join the little kids skiing the ten meter hill. Then the jumping moved to the 25 meter jump where Dan Brown, Bill Ryan and Spencer Amundson took the golds in a field of seven Masters. Finally, on the 50 meter jump, with a light headwind coming up the landing, the Old Boys rose to the occasion. Dan Brown, Matt McKenny and Tim Denisson all looked very nice on their way to gold medals, but Bill Ryan was the most impressive. His competitor, Chris Hastings, hadn't jumped in 17 years but Chris was an Olympian (1988 in Calgary) and a two time National Champion (1985 & 1987) and his talent shown through the rust as he posted the top Masters score on the big hill. Bill Ryan looked great, jumping 39.5 & 40.5 meters and finishing within five points of Hastings. Chris Jones was the only skier in the Pre-Masters Class (25-29) and posted the top score of all the skiers on the big hill. Chris looks like a good bet to become a Masters skier in a few years.
Farnham scheduled the Lebanon Championships so that participants could travel to Brattleboro the next day for the second day of jumping on the recenly modernized Harris Hill 90 meter jump. Most would go there as spectators and to socialize with old friends who would be there, but arrangements were made for Masters to ski on Harris Hill as a medal event, the big hill portion of the Age Group Championships. In the end, no Masters signed up to jump the big hill.
Junior awards (just candy bars) were distributed in the chalet after the 50 meter jumping [ see junior results ] but Masters awards waited until later when the chalet would be free of juniors and Alpine skiers. When they had the place to themselves, the Old Boys socialized with appetizers, pizza, and of course, beer. The delay cost a few faces -- Chris Hastings had a family commitment so couldn't stay for the ceremonies, and Spencer Amundson also left early.
In 2008, Mark Levasseur established a new Eastern award, the Earle Murphy/Don West award in honor of two long-time Eastern Masters jumpers. The award goes each year to the top Masters jumper in the Eastern Championships. With the thinning out of the Masters field, sometimes no Masters jumper competes in the Eastern Championships. When this happened in 2009, only the second year of the award, the plaque was awarded to Jon Farnham who had been the top Masters skier the previous day. Now in 2013 the Eastern Championships in Salisbury CT had no Masters on Saturday or Sunday. What to do? Levasseur consulted with a few others and decided to award this year's plaque to the top Eastern jumper on the big hill in the Lebanon Nationals. At the end of the awards ceremony, Jon Farnham described the situation and explained that top jumper, Chris Hastings wasn't in the house. Jon awarded the plaque on Monday evening when Hastings was back at Storrs Hill.
When the awards ceremony was finished, Don West stood up and read a letter of thanks from Jim Mylander from St. Paul who is battling cancer. Then Don gave his own thanks for the many kind words and notes of support that he had received in his own battle with the same disease. He then rolled directly into a description of the many contributions that Jon Farnham has made to the sport of ski jumping, leading up to inducting Jon into the U.S. Master Ski Jumpers Hall of Fame. Jon became the 29th honored member. Jon has been the backbone of the Lebanon Outing Club for more than 15 years and served for several years as chairman of the Eastern Junior Jumping Committee. His contributions in promoting, organizing, hill preparing and coaching have been immense. And he'll play the Star Spangled Banner at your meet on his harmonica if you ask him.
Tony Benzie won the gold medal.
When the ceremonies were finished and all the honors were handed out, a couple of the photographers lined up the Masters jumpers for the annual group photo -- yes, that's like herding cats. The lineup included a few Masters who are no longer jumping.
Front row (L-R): Todd Caruso, John Conley, Jared King, Don West, Chris Jones.
Back row: Dan Brown, Ted Chivers, Tim Denisson, Bill Ryan, Matt McKenny,
Ryan Crawford, Jon Farnham. Missing: Spencer Amundson and Chris Hastings.
(Ted Chivers' big yellow skis were used by Tim Denisson, who liked them.)
Here are the results of the 2013 National Masters Championships
10 meter Masters jumping
[ Judge-1: Jody Graves; Judge-2: Wil Smith; 10 pts per meter.]
Photos by Barb, Kim and Ted. Thank you.