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The Stoughton Ski Jump (a.k.a Ski Slide)
December 1, 2022 @ 8:00 am - January 31, 2023 @ 5:00 pmFREE
During an exciting, but unfortunately short time span of four years, Stoughton held the distinction of having the highest ski jump in the United States, while hosting one of the largest ski jump tournaments in the Midwest.
The beginnings of ski jumping in Stoughton date back to the nineteenth century and is associated with the activity of Norwegian immigration, which at that time massively found its way to Wisconsin. In 1898, a competition was organized near the Academy (where Stoughton Hospital now stands), where the best score of 143 feet in three jumps in total was made my John Sundby.
In 1910, the first plans were made to build a new structure that would even surpass that of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The jump, which reached a height of 127 feet, cost close to $5000. An opening competition was held on February 1,1911 and included the country’s best jumpers.
On February 10, 1911, the first major tourney was run in Stoughton and the response was incredible. The community itself pulled out all stops for the “Upper Midwest Ski Jump Tournament” as both wagon factories were closed as well as all other local businesses for the duration of the meet. Stoughton schools were given a half day vacation, a parade of competitors was held through the downtown streets, a heated tent for the women was built at the site of the jump, and the local band was on hand for the festivities.
On May 11, 1914, a powerful windstorm that was incorrectly termed a “hurricane,” in the Courier Hub headlines, destroyed not only tall ski tower, but many area businesses as well as killing one person and injuring three. Surprisingly, little was said in the Courier Hub about the loss of the about popular ski jump. It was overshadowed by the death of a local man and the destruction of most of the high school and, for those reasons, probably did not merit much more than a mention. In the 1920s also a smaller hill was to be built nearby, about which little is known.
In the late 1960’s Doug Pfundheller and Don Helmke along with the local ski cub renewed interest in building a third ski slide, also on the Severson farm property. It was torn down in the 1970’s to make way for Vennevoll Independent Living. Stop into Livsreise and see a replica of the 1911 slide built by local resident Andrew Quam.
Pyror Smith, a retired teacher, researched the history of the Stoughton ski jump in the late 1990’s. He was able to determine that the landing hill of the jump was located on a hill between the addresses 1315 and 1401 Skogdalen Drive at Vennevoll Independent Living.