Tournament hill conditions were nearly perfect for the 95th Westby Snowflake Ski Jump night tournament on Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 3.
Friday, Feb. 2
Near perfect temperatures was the order of the night at the 95th Snowflake Ski Tournament on Friday Feb. 3. With temperatures hovering around 15 degrees and light southwest winds it was ideal for hosting the ever popular “Under the Lights” ski jump.
Large flood lights illuminated the ski hill and the grounds were lit up with bon fires to keep the crowd warm while music echoed through the valley to keep the crowd moving. They also made their presence known with cow bells and vehicle horns honking as skiers soared off the hill.
The longest competition jump on Friday night was recorded by Slovenia’s Nik Fabijan of 121.5 meters. A number of other jumpers also soared beyond 110 meters making for a great night of skiing for all with plenty of crowd enthusiasm.
Top 3 Division Winners
The four divisions for the 2018 jump on Friday were: US Cup Under 20 Male; US Cup Under 20 Female; Masters; and Seniors-Open. A total of 26 skiers competed on the 118-meter Olympic sized hill in Westby.
US Cup Under 20 Male: Patrick Gasienica of the Norge Ski Club won with 116 and 117 meter jumps (248.5 points). Ben Kaiser of the Norge Ski Club placed second with 109 and 110 meter jumps (218.9 points). Noah Pollard of the Blackhawk Ski Club placed third with 103 and 106 meter jumps (197.9 points).
- Of local interest Snowflake Ski Club representative August Schini finished sixth with 88 and 91 meter jumps (139.3 points). Schini, age 18, has only been ski jumping for three years. He is a senior at Central High School in La Crosse.
US Cup Under 20 Female: Two female skiers from the Norge Ski Club competed at Snowflake. Mollie Immens placed first with 76 and 87.5 jumps (114 points). Kailey Bickner recorded 55 and 62 meter jumps (24.6) points.
Masters: Cooper Dodds of the Westby Snowflake Ski Club won the Masters Division on Friday, Feb. 2, with 106 and 104 meter jumps (206.2 points). Patrick Kruegel of the Minneapolis Ski Club placed second with 55 and 63 meter jumps (27.6 points). Eric Hagfors of Team Hella placed third with 55 and 63 meter jumps (24.6 points).
Seniors-Open: Nik Fabijan of Slovenia won with 120 and 125 meter jumps (262.9 points). Elias Vanska of Finland placed second with 115 and 119 meter jumps (257.9 points). Jost Susnik of Slovenia placed third with 115 and 117 meter jumps (253.3 points).
Saturday, Feb. 3
On Saturday, the hill condition was top-notch, temperatures were warmer at 23 degrees, with a 7 mph cross wind from the southeast, which gave skiers an added lift during the practice jumps and for the first round of the competition.
By round 2, the snow began to fall and stick to the scaffold and in-run forcing skiers to change gates. The snow slowed skier speeds on take-off, resulting in shorter jumps and some frustration by competitors.
A large crowd, estimated at 3,000-plus, were bundled up for the occasion and had a remarkable time. Tailgating parties were visible in the parking lots, while others gathered around the roaring bonfires.
Top 3 Division Winners
The four divisions for the 2018 jump on Saturday were: Five Hills, US Cup Under 20 Male; US Cup Under 20 Female and Senior-Masters. A total of 25 skiers competed on Saturday.
Five Hills: Elias Vanska of Finland won with 117 and 93 meter jumps (212.7 points). Nik Fabijan of Slovenia placed second with 118 and 77 meter jumps (182.2 points). Jonas Viken of Norway placed third with 108 and 85 meter jumps (173.6 points).
US Cup Under 20 Male: Patrick Gasienica of the Norge Ski Club won with 114 and 103 meter jumps (211.8 points). Ben Kaiser of the Norge Ski Club placed second with 110 and 88 meter jumps (179.6 points); and Noah Pollard of the Blackhawk Ski Club placed third with 102.3 and 96 meter jumps (174.6 points).
***Snowflake Ski Club representative August Schini finished fifth with 82 and 74 meter jumps (100 points).
US Cup Under 20 Female: Two female skiers from the Norge Ski Club competed at Snowflake. Mollie Immens placed first with matching 67 meter jumps (57.9 points). Kailey Bickner recorded 57 and 56 meter jumps (12.6 points).
Senior-Masters: Luke Tschida of the Minneapolis Ski Club won on Saturday, Feb. 3 with jumps of 106 and 109.5 (212.6 points). Cooper Dodds of the Snowflake Ski Club placed second with 84.5 and 98 meter jumps (156.2). Patrick Kruegel of the Minneapolis Ski Club placed third with 58 and 56 meter jumps (13.9 points).
Long Standing Jump
The 2018 Snowflake royalty, Queen Faith Gardner and her attendants, Alexis Mahan and Rebecca Buckles, made their way around the grounds collecting money for the traditional long standing jump held annually at the end of regular competition on Saturday, Feb. 3.
Nik Fabijan of Slovenia won the event for the second year in a row. He jumped 113 meters and collected $1,100.
Long standing competitors are in search of distance and fast cash. They choose any start gate and and are not judged on style, but distance only.