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Fans return to Silver Mine Invitational Ski Jump

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:59 PM CST
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TOWN OF UNION, Wis. (WEAU) - UPDATE: Competition was canceled Friday night due to windy conditions.

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The Silver Mine Invitational Ski Jump returned to the Chippewa Valley Friday.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the event to forgo fans in 2021, the crowds are back at Silver Mine Ski Jump.

The event’s Tournament Director, Dan Mattoon, said the event, which has been in the Chippewa Valley for more than 130 years, wasn’t the same without fans.

“It’s kind of tough, like when they’re playing NFL football with no fans in the stands. Same type of thing for a ski jumper,” he said. “They want to see the crowd and the people and all the enthusiasm around the sport here. Also, not only that, of course, the spectators can watch these jumpers fly through the air and hear the wind on their skis and their body as they’re flying over the hill.”

Fans returning doesn’t only help the athletes compete, it supports the entire region.

Visit Eau Claire Executive Director Benny Anderson said people come from across the U.S., and Canada, to see the jumpers. This creates a sizeable economic impact as that money multiplies through the community.

“A lot of times they’ll figure about 55 bucks a visitor for food, gas, all that stuff,” he said. “At 5,000 people, I mean it really starts to add up into the couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars, not including hotel impact.”

“It’s pretty fun to put on an event in the middle of January when there’s not a whole lot of others things going on, and bringing tourism in the Eau Claire area, it’s pretty exciting for us,” Mattoon said.

After more than a century of jumping, one year without fans isn’t going to ruin this annual tradition.

“They’re the only business that I’m aware of that’s seen two pandemics,” Anderson said.

The competition continues Saturday at 2 p.m. People can buy tickets at the gate.

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