Years ago the Ishpeming Ski Club (ISC) endured senseless acts of vandalism at Suicide Bowl. Before a fence was installed we would often arrive for a new day of ski jumping, expecting that the ski hill would be in the same shape we had left it, and instead we would find that the ski hill that had been trashed.
With the installation of a fence at Suicide Bowl, vandalism decreased. In recent years ISC members have been happy to arrive at the ski jumping complex and find it in good shape. Unfortunately, over the past week the ISC has experienced two senseless acts of vandalism. Nearly a week ago, the sprinkler system on an ISC ski hill was heavily damaged; sprinkler heads were destroyed and some of the piping was disconnected and damaged. Between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, vandals struck on the Norman Juhola Trail System (NJTS), the cross country ski trails maintained by the ISC. Several trail map kiosks were heavily damaged by either gunfire or by being run-over with a vehicle. In addition, vandals cut a padlock on a gate intended to keep vehicles off the NJTS. The vandals proceeded to use a chainsaw to cut many mature trees along the trailside, so that the trees fell across the ski trail.
The ISC is an old and very well established non-profit organization that receives an amazing amount of support from the community. In return, the ISC hosts an annual International Ski Jumping Tournament (2021 will the 134th annual tournament) showcasing the skill, daring and determination of U.S. and international ski jumpers and Nordic combined skiers. The tournament is an evening festival complete with the excitement of ski jumpers "going deep" (really long jumps), huge bonfires, hot food, and a firework finale. In addition to the tournament, the ISC sponsors and provides equipment and coaching, almost year-round, for ski jumpers and Nordic combined skiers, and coaching for cross country skiers, ages 5 through high-school at minimal cost. Furthermore, community members are encouraged to cross country ski on the professionally groomed NJTS in the winter, and walk, run or bike on the trails in the summer - all at no charge.
With exception of the Head Ski Jumping Coach, the ISC and the Suicide Bowl Complex is operated and maintained by volunteer ISC members and members of the community as a whole. These volunteers donate their free time to the ISC with the hope that youngsters from the community may experience the joy and excitement of flying either through the air, or across the snow, on a pair of skis. The ISC strives to help young skiers develop confidence, strong ski jumping and cross country ski skills, and develop an appreciation for being active outside.
The recent, senseless property damage incurred at Suicide Bowl and on the NJTS trails may not seem all that significant to some. However, for a small club like the ISC these senseless acts are serious and will require significant volunteer time and ISC funds to make repairs. The ISC is working hard to keep ski jumping alive in Upper Michigan, but we need help to keep an eye on the ISC facility and trails, and to educate others about the efforts and goals of the ISC.
Donations to help repair the damage can be made on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ishskiclub/
Thank you for your support.
Gary Rasmussen, Head Ski Jumping Coach
Dick Ziegler, Head Cross Country Ski Coach & ISC President