Willem Speed (formerly Schott)
Blackhawk Ski Club/ University of Utah

You can take the bear out of the woods, but you can’t take the woods out of the bear. It also seems that you can take the ski-jumper away from the jumps but you can’t take the jumps away from the ski-jumper. Having jumped every year from 1998 to 2022 I am definitely a bit wary of what’s to come having just moved to Bend Oregon for a new job. It’s now the first time I’ll have lived more than an hour from a ski-jump without any plans to get back out, even recreationally as I have for the past decade. Now it’s not all doom and gloom and this story is more about that eye that all ski-jumpers have for a good opportunity when it comes along.

So after moving to Bend, Oregon this fall I found myself headed out to a local waterfall for a hike. On my drive through the national forest I came upon the small community called Skyliners (a handful of houses/cabins grandfathered into this beautiful spot along Tumalo Creek). Now the only reason I’m bringing up this community is the ski-jumper on their sign, right there, front and center, check out the picture! So I did what any good old Midwestern ski-jumper would do and e-mailed Ken Anderson. I also e-mailed the local historical society and got connected with someone who told me of Bend’s ski-jumping history. Like many spots in the US, Bend did have a few ski-jumps mostly following both world wars. One out at the Skyliner Ski Club in the 20s/30s and one on the big Pilot Butte right in town for exhibitions up until the 60s. There are only scattered pictures of any of these, but still fun to think about.

Now a few months later I took my dog out for a walk in the snow at this SkyLiners Sno-Park and happened upon what has to be the old ski-jump spot. tight spot through the trees, perfect grade, plenty of room for a 30 maybe even 40 meter! I trudged up the hillside with my dog bounding through the snow and stood at the top of this break in the trees huffing and puffing like the true special jumper I am. With my heart pounding and breath heaving I looked out and closed my eyes so I could picture a start gate, a wooden coaches stand, the jumpers before and maybe even the jumpers in the future. While rebuilding a ski-jump here would be quite the task, it sure is fun to dream!

WILLEM’S SCAVENGER HUNT began with this sign in Bend, OR.
WILLEM’S SCAVENGER HUNT wound up here, at the site of the Skyliners Ski Club’s 30-40M jump that was built in the early 1900’s.
A circa 1930 photo of members of the Skyliners Ski Club on the outrun of their jump.  The club was initially founded to train people in outdoor competency after two hikers were killed in a Labor Day snow storm in 1927.
A well-attended competition on the Skyliners Ski Club’s  jump.

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