Eau Claire (WQOQ) - Ski jumping in the summer is something you might not expect on the Eau Claire slopes, for now. An Eau Claire resident is changing that and being given credit in a big way.
Eau Claire ski-jumping has come a long way.
“We're on the verge of probably three or four athletes from Eau Claire that have a chance to make the Olympics so that's very, very exciting,” says Dan Mattoon, an Eau Claire ski jumper.
And one man has been given most of the credit.
“Dan has almost single handily saved ski jumping in Eau Claire on multiple levels,” says Paul Loomis, another helping hand of the ski club community. “Locally he's been involved as a coach, as an organizer, fundraiser, as a donor. He does so much for the ski jumping community and I don't think it would be where it is today without Dan.”
On Saturday, he will be inducted into the American ski jumping hall of fame.
“I guess the hall of fame, I mean it's obviously an honor for me to get into the hall of fame,” says Mattoon.
The sport originated in Norway and spread around the world.
“And so that sport came back into the Eau Claire area, the Chippewa Valley area in the late 1800's. And there's been ski jumping in this town ever since,” says Mattoon. “All the top athletes in the country usually come here. As well as we bring in people from Finland and Norway, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Russia.”
Dan's goal is to make it better.
“Ski jumping has become like any other sport. It's almost a year round sport,” says Mattoon.
Skiing in the summer? They're just starting to lay down some rubber here which they actually got from old conveyer belts. After that they nail down some plastic, and then turn on the sprinklers and the skiers are ready to go.
“It kind of works like a slip and slide; we run water down the jumps and they'll be able to jump in the summer,” explains Mattoon.
That way, they'll be more prepared for competition this winter.
“For the size of our town and the size of our club, we've produced some amazing athletes and amazing youth,” says Loomis.
Dan will be inducted into the hall of fame this Saturday in Red Wing, Minnesota.