Media Review: Ski Jumping in Washington State

Ski Jumping in Washington State
A Nordic Tradition
By John W. Lundin

Ski jumping, once Washington’s most popular winter sport, was introduced by Norwegian immigrants in the early 20th century. In the Pacific Northwest, competitive jumping began at Rossland, British Columbia, in 1898. The sport migrated to Spokane’s Browne’s Mountain in 1913 and Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill in 1916, moved to midsummer tournaments on Mount Rainier in 1917 and expanded statewide as new ski clubs formed. Washington tournaments attracted the world’s best jumpers—Birger and Sigmund Ruud, Alf Engen, Sigurd Ulland and Reidar Andersen, among others. In 1941, Torger Tokle set two national distance records there in just three weeks. Regional ski areas hosted national and international championships as well as Olympic tryouts, entertaining spectators until Leavenworth’s last tournament in 1978.

Big-hill ski jumping in the Northwest suffered a major blow when the Milwaukee Road Ski Bowl at Hyak burned down in 1949 and was not rebuilt. By the 1970s, public interest had faded and the Northwest’s historic facilities were all dismantled. Leavenworth’s really big jump was the last to go. Unsustainable maintenance and insurance costs contributed to the demise.

Seattle-based lawyer, historian and award-winning author John W. Lundin re-creates the excitement of this nearly forgotten ski jumping heritage. The book was written in conjunction with an exhibit put together by the National Nordic Museum and the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum. This is the author’s third ISHA Skade Award: He was honored in 2018 for Early Skiing on Snoqualmie Pass and in 2021 for Skiing Sun Valley: From the Union Pacific to the Holdings. –Seth Masia 

Ski Jumping in Washington State: A Nordic Tradition by John W. Lundin, History Press, 226 pages. $32.99 hardbound, $23.99 softcover.