Gelande jumping holds a special place in Alta's history. It's a chapter that was written by the likes of Alf Engen, who showcased style and skill when it came to gelande. It's a chapter that will never be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to witness, or participate in, the event. Recently, our friend, Jesse LeBlanc, an honorary member of the Alta Gelande Club, came across an old gelande jumping t-shirt that brought back memories. Here are his words:
The t-shirt is old. In fact, it's old, faded and torn. But the memories are as fresh as the freshest freshies.
Thirty years ago, I got to see some of the best gelande skl jumpers ever go off of a jump that has seen some of the greatest skiers in history go off of it, including an old friend of Alta named Alf Engen.
My good friend "Crazy" George Reis was the president of the Alta Gelande Club at the time. For those who witnessed Alta gelande ski jumping in the 1980s, he was the one who wore a Japanese rising sun headband and who would yell "BANZAI" every time he flew off of the jump. He's also the one who my pictured t-shirt was modeled after.
Watching him and gelande legend Andrew "Too Tall" Hall and others was a major treat for me. I would stand just below the knoll of the hill after they flew off of the jump. The sound of a body cutting through the air at 60 plus miles an hour sounds like a miniature jet whizzing past you. It's one of the coolest sounds I've ever heard, and if you ever get the chance to see a ski jumping competition, I highly recommend standing just below the transition near where they go off of the jump. These guys regularly fly 200 feet!
I was honored to be allowed to hit the jump but never did so in competition. George even made me an honorary Alta Gelande Club member and I attended a couple of parties that were held in the gelande shack at the bottom of the jump hill.
For me, those times have passed. But the memories are still strong. I'll still do a hike up or a traverse to ski fresh tracks, but I don't think that I'll be hucking off of the gelande jump ever again.
Happy jumping everyone!
- Jesse LeBlanc
Posted in: #AltaHistory