Westby Snowflake Ski Club organizers are used to dealing with an uncooperative Mother Nature and a stubborn Old Man Winter who both enjoy testing the limits every year when it comes to seeing if the Westby Ski Jump will soar, or not.
So with temperatures periodically reaching into the 40s over the past two weeks the man-made snow making process was limited, but when Old Man Winter did cooperate, volunteers took shifts throughout the night to ensure that the 95th Snowflake Ski Jump would take place as scheduled this weekend.
Bitter cold temperatures in late December and early January allowed ski club organizers to mass produce the artificial snow. The ski club uses man-made snow for the hills, which is higher in water content and holds up in warmer temperatures longer than natural snow.
It typically takes around 200 hours of snow-making, with ideal conditions of 15 degrees or less, depending on humidity, to make enough snow to pack the ski hills in Timber Coulee.
Crews kept the snow-making machine humming until a warm snap in mid-January brought the process to a halt for a short time. Warm temperatures test the patience of ski club volunteers, who spend countless hours working on the 118-meter Olympic size hill, but it never stops the entire process since there are plenty of other things on the to do list to finish before the main event can occur.
The Winter Olympics are just a week away, but the Snowflake Ski Jump is expected to feature approximately 20 national and international skiers and organizers are hoping for another great turnout this weekend.
Friday, Feb. 2
The kick-off breakfast at Borgen’s Café will be held from 7-10 a.m. Opening ceremonies for the ever-popular “Friday Night Under the Lights” night jump will be held at 7 p.m., with competition slated at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a long standing jump after the regular competition. Live music by “High Mileage” will complete the evening at the Westby Rod & Gun in Timber Coulee from 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 3
Open training is scheduled from 9-11 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at noon. Competition for the second day of the event kicks off at 12:30 p.m. followed by the long standing jump and awards ceremony. Weather permitting on Saturday there will be helicopter rides and horse-drawn wagon rides on the grounds. The ski club also funds a money pile for kids to collect coins. After the jump spectators are invited to attend a second live music event with “Blue Collar 40” at the Westby Rod & Gun from 3-7 p.m.
Presale for the 2018 ski jump buttons ended on Feb. 1. The cost of admission is now $20, with the button good for both days of the event. Buttons are available at the gate.
The commemorative gold button this year features DeVerne Struxness, who was very involved with the Snowflake Golf Course, but passed away on July 11, 2017. Struxness lived nearby and was a long time green’s keeper at the course. He was a soft spoken