Bloomington: Not a place celebrated for its mountains. Yet for the 100-odd members of the Minneapolis Ski Jumping Club, a patch near the junction of 494 and 100 is the place to soar.
When children first start coming to the Bush Lake Ski Jump complex, they practice on ramps that look like bunny hills with some lift. Eventually, skiers graduate to the World Cup–caliber 70-meter jump—a landmark you can see for miles around.
That’s where the magic really happens. “We all do this for the feeling of flight,” says Chris Broz, a former member of the U.S. ski jumping team and the club’s head coach.
Broz, 38, started jumping at age 11, when his family moved to Eden Prairie. He was looking for new friends, and he found air. But many jumpers start even younger—before they develop that little part of the brain that connects fear and consequence. Broz’s own daughters, now 9 and 7, started jumping when they were 5 years old.
Until recently, however, Broz’s girls—and the other female jumpers in the club—wouldn’t have been able to reach the Olympics, no matter how good they became. Though men have competed in ski jumping at the Olympic level since 1924 and the birth of the Winter Games, women weren’t allowed to compete in Olympic ski jumping until 2014. Officially, the International Olympic Committee maintained there weren’t enough competitors. Unofficially, organizers held to the outdated belief that the landings were too hard on women’s bodies and could render them infertile. (You’d think women’s petticoats and bonnets would serve as parachutes…)
Olympics bound or not, girls and women of all ages find a tight community within the club. Just ask Daisy Forester, pictured, whose career is now taking flight.
By the Numbers
Height, in meters, of the tallest ski jump at Bush Lake
Year of the first U.S. ski jumping competition, held in Red Wing
Farthest distance, in feet, jumpers can reach at Bush Lake
Year ski jumping came to the U.S.
Time it takes, in seconds, from bar start to landing, to jump on (and off) Bush Lake’s tallest hill
The top speed, in MPH, skiers reach on the Bush Lake jump inrun (the hill you descend before jumping)
Number of ski jumping facilities in the state (the others are Cloquet, St. Paul, and Coleraine)