Limited to only 1,000 spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament lacked some of the flare and party-time environment that has become synonymous with the annual spectacle in Fox River Grove.
Norge publicity chairman Charlie Sedivec is hopeful the fall tournament, which is being called “Jumptoberfest” and won’t require anyone attending to dig out their cars from the snow, will bring in more fans and good times.
“I think we’re gonna have a big hit,” Sedivec said. “I think it’s gonna be perfect. We’re really gonna pack them in.”
Buttons for the Oct. 2 and 3 event are already on sale and can be purchased for $15 at norgeskiclub.com by Oct. 1. Buttons are required and good for both days, while children 12 and under get in for free, according to the website. Buttons also can be purchased at the gate for $20.
Spectators are asked to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. No dogs or carry-ins are allowed.
The two-day competition starts Saturday, Oct. 2, with jumpers under 18 years old. “The top guns of the sport” will take off Sunday, Oct. 3, and will exclusively jump from Norge’s 150-foot high tower. Gates open both days at 11 a.m., with the competition going from noon until about 4 p.m.
“It’s going to be great to have everyone back into the swing of things,” Sedivec said. “We’ve got plastic on almost all of the hills and we’ll be able to use a lot more jumps than we have in the past. Everybody’s really excited.”
Crowds in the summer and fall are normally much smaller than the winter, which can attract as many as 3,000 to 5,000 people. But this year could be an exception, Sedivec said. The winter competition was still a success despite the restrictions, he said.
“The 1,000 spectators filled up over night, so it was a good deal for us,” Sedivec said. “We still had concessions and everything, and people had a good time.”
Food and beverage, including brats, hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, pop, beer, wine and Jägermeister – a wintertime must for Norge party-goers – will be available, according to the website. But the main attraction, of course, will be the world-class ski jumping.
“You’ll get to see skiers soaring over 250 feet through the air, and that’s a thrill in itself,” Sedivec said. “We get people that come back year after year. We’ve got people that have been coming to the tournament for over 60 years
“It’s an exciting sport that draws you in. To see kids, some 10, 11, 12 years old, come flying down that hill, it’s really mind-boggling.”
Three Norge-based ski jumpers – Cary’s Michael Glasder, Wauconda’s Kevin Bickner and Barrington’s Casey Larson – qualified and competed in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, which was the first time that one club had three skiers make the four-person American team.
Sedivec hopes to see more more Olympian skiers come from Norge, as soon as the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, with more than 12 from the club already competing at the national level.
“We’re hoping we’ve got a couple of skiers that could make the next Olympics, and they’ll be competing, so it’s going to be an exciting tournament,” Sedivec said. “I have my predictions but I don’t want to give those out just yet.”