Shaheen checks out Nansen Ski Jump and other funding recipients

April 18, 2022

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen visited the Big Nansen Ski Jump last Wednesday to see the work being done to revive both the historic jump and the sport of jumping here.

Shaheen earmarked $500,000 for the jump in the recent federal budget.

The stop was one of three the state’s senior senator made in Coos County as she checked out projects she was able to get funded. She also visited Coos County Family Health Service’s dental clinic in Berlin and the P.J. Noyes building in Lancaster.

Friends of the Big Nansen Ski Jump told Shaheen the group’s initial goal seven years ago was just to clean up the site and tell its historic significance. But Olympic jumper Sarah Hendrickson’s jump off the Big Nansen in March of 2017 made people realize the jump could be rehabilitated and used again for competitive jumping.

Friends members Jay Poulin and Scott Halvorson described the work done last summer to re-profile the landing hill. But realizing that reinforcing the steel tower was going to be expensive, the club decided to shift its focus to getting some small jumps up that could be used immediately.

The Friends reconstructed a 39-meter jump and earlier this year hosted the first sanctioned jumping competition here in 37 years. They also built a small 10-meter bump jump to get young kids interested in the sport. Halvorson told Shaheen the first jumper to go over the 39-meter jump was a 9-year-old girl who was signed up for the smaller 10-meter jump. But the young girl quickly decided she wanted to do the 39-meter jump and moved over to that line.

“These kids are amazing — they really are,” Halvorson said. “That is a huge goal of ours — recruiting kids. Berlin had a huge, huge program for years and years and years. And, of course, with the death of this jump and everything else, it fell by the wayside. And so, we are bringing it back,” he added.

Poulin said the Friends are working with the local schools to get a regional jumping team together. Shaheen said she understood that New Hampshire is the only state that has high school jumping and Kennett High School Jumping Team Coach Chip Henry confirmed that fact. Henry said he would like to see more high school jumping programs in the state and is assisting the Friends to put one together in Berlin-Gorham.

Andrew Cushing, historic sites chief for the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said the Nansen Ski Jump is different from most state historical sites because the Friends and state are working to do more than just preserve the site.

“This is a chance to actually reintroduce the activity that it was meant for,” Cushing said.

As the most intact jump of its kind in the country, Ben Wilson, director of the state Division of Historical Resources, said it has national significance. The jump is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Poulin said the club estimates about $1 million is needed to reinforce the steel tower, install deflection boards, and do other work. Shaheen has earmarked $500,000 in funding in the “Save America’s Treasures” program for the Big Nansen. The grant must be matched and the state and Friends have three years to raise the $500,000 match. The group said the activity at the jump has helped donations and the support from Shaheen contributes to the message that the jump “is coming back to life.”

The senator said she will be getting regular updates on the project.

Before she visited the ski jump, Shaheen toured the CCFHS’s dental clinic on Main Street in Berlin and participated in a discussion on dental needs in the region. CCFHS is renovating a building to provide needed space for its clinic and Shaheen was able to secure $1.5 million for the project.

“Expanding its dental clinic in Berlin will ensure quality dental services are more accessible for local residents,” said Shaheen.

The senator concluded her day in the North Country at the historic Parker J. Noyes building in downtown Lancaster.

The 100-year upgrade will create spaces for apartments and Taproot Farm & Environmental Education Center, a non-profit that helps increase food security and sustainability. The project was partly funded by a Northern Border Regional Commission grant, Shaheen said she pushed for funding for the NBRC and said the commission received $35 million in fiscal 2022 to spend on projects in rural communities in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and New York.

By:  Barbara Tetreault
Source: Berlin Sun