Technically called the FIS Continental Cup and sponsored by the Kiwanas Club (link) “the jumps” are a big highlight of the winter. The event usually takes place smack in the middle of February, so it breaks up the winter nicely. (ie. It gives you something to look forward to in February, when there’s not a whole lot going on. And then after that, hey, March is just around the corner and you can almost hear the birds chirping.)
The ski jumps are basically a huge party. Around 5,000 people bundle up and hang out in Iron Mountain, MI to watch Olympic caliber ski jumpers launch themselves off Giant Pine Mountain. Beer is consumed, brats and burgers are grilled, and when the wind is right, there’s even some ski jumping. (inside joke)
I’ve had two very distinct types of experiences at the jumps.
1. Partying. We get a group of people, a grill and a bunch of food and beer, bring a portable fire pit, and have a party outside in the middle of winter. It’s a blast. Oh, and there’s ski jumping too. We honk our car horns when someone has a nice jump and then give random high fives to strangers.
2. Spectating. (aka – “Not partying”) A couple of years ago, only one of my friends was able to make it up for the jumps. He happens to be a photographer, so he and I made taking photos more of the focus and stayed away from the booze. And you know what? It was brilliant!
The Upper Peninsula’s crisp, clean winter air is awesome if you’re dressed for it. We walked around, took photos of the jumpers, caught whiffs of other people’s campfires and still made time to grill out. Oh, and then you have the stairs (link).
Climbing the Pine Mountain Stairs isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and after a few beers, it’s not a lot of fun. Conversely, if you’re sober you can just blow right by all the people who’ve had a few and get a little exercise while your at it. (And in effect, more of that crisp winter air in your lungs. I swear, crisp U.P. winter air is like a drug in and off itself.)
To see more photos of the Pine Mountain Ski Jumps, click here to access my Facebook page and then browse to the “Pine Mountain Ski Jumps” photo album. (You’ll need to “like” the page if you haven’t already)
Bottom line: The Pine Mountain Ski Jumps are absolutely one of the best winter events we have here in the Upper Peninsula. It would behoove you to check it out!
Website: Kiwanis Ski Club
Other things to note: You need to buy a “button” to gain admission to the jumps, and they cost around $20. Save yourself around $5 per button and buy them a few days before the jumps.
Map: To see Pine Mountain Ski Jump’s location on my map of the U.P., click here.