Ski Jumping: One More Time

Will this be the last post on ski jumping? I’d like to say yes, but I can’t promise!

A week ago, I was given a website enabling me to search old Winona, Minnesota, newspapers. What a treasure that was! Those papers did a good job covering news in western Wisconsin and, combined with La Crosse and Eau Claire papers I’d searched earlier, my wealth of ski jumping news articles grew once again. (Whitehall and Blair newspapers, which I’ve not been able to search, would expand my list again.)

If you’re a “Borreson cousin,” one of Emil and Gina’s grandchildren, I’m e-mailing each of you a summary of what I learned about the ski tournaments the Borreson brothers participated in. In this public posting, I’ll add a few more thoughts.

I have discovered about thirty pieces of ski jumping documentation from 1919 to 1948 for the family, most of them ski jumping tournaments. I am quite certain the brothers jumped at many more events; my findings may be “the tip of the iceberg,” so to write.

Five brothers were ski tournmanet jumpers: Gilbert, Bennie, Ednar (Red), Odell, and Sidney. I know that Edgar and my dad Garven also skied, but I doubt they did tournament jumping, at least based on news clippings. This was truly a ski jumping family. There were other such families, too, like the six Nelsons brothers from nearby Strum, or the famous Bietila brothers from Ishpeming, Michigan.

The first ski jumping evidence is 1919 photo for Pigeon Falls skiers including Gilbert and Bennie; the last is a ski jumping competition at Eid Hill, Pigeon Falls, that included Bennie  in the Senior Class. That’s Borreson ski jumping over the course of four decades! I’ll include the one article I found from January 1935 with three Borreson skiers. (Tamarack is near Arcadia in Trempealeau County.)

In addition to hometown Pigeon Falls, of course, the list of places where the brothers jumped is quite long and worth including. In Wisconsin, there were Blair, Tamarack, Whitehall, Eau Claire, Hudson, Wausau, Strum, Sparta, Westby, and Galesville. In Minnesota, I know of Winona, Red Wing, and Rushford. That’s a total of 14 places, and the list is likely incomplete. Red Wing was one of the earliest places for midwestern ski jumping, and today ski jumps are still going at Eau Claire and Westby.

There’s a line I found in the Skiing Heritage Journal (2008) underlining the importance of ski jumping in Norwegian-American communities: “There was a time that if a Norwegian moved to your town, a ski jump was likely to appear within a year.” Pigeon Falls was a ski jumping town, and the Borreson brothers were in the center of the action.

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