Achieving an Olympic dream: Dan Mattoon

Published: Feb. 6, 2022 at 10:23 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Ski jumping has a rich history in the Chippewa Valley.

In 1886, Norwegian immigrants founded the Dovre Ski Club, now known as the Flying Eagles Ski Club-- this year, they’ll be represented at the 2022 games.

“It’s just kind of one of those things that I’ve finally fulfilled the Olympic dream per se, checked the box,” said Dan Mattoon.

Mattoon got the call in April of 2021, he would be traveling to Beijing. The former competitor brings plenty of experience.

“I’ve been doing this ski jumping thing for 50 years now with being an athlete and a coach and then an organizer and of course a judge.”

Following his selection as an Olympic judge, Mattoon spent the last year traveling the globe scoring at ski jump competitions.

He explains judges don’t give points, they only take them away. The scoring starts once the jumper is in the air.

“There’s five different points in the flight that we can take away, there’s five points in the landing that we can take away and seven in the outrun,” Mattoon added. “It happens very quickly. We have maybe five seconds to seven seconds to be able to put our score in. We have to obviously be able to visualize the perfect flight once they’re flying in the air. We’re looking for that perfect telemark landing with one foot in front of the other and then we’re also looking on the outrun for no deficiencies there.”

Judges are able to review the landing quickly on a monitor before inputting their final tally.

It isn’t just Dan who’s excited for the opportunity, but also his family including his son Nick, a former ski jumper.

“I’m super proud of him, super excited,” said Nick Mattoon. “They only choose an American judge once every 20 year so it’s an extreme honor for him to be able to go and do that for the Olympics. He deserves it. He’s a really good judge. He’s been doing this forever.”

While maintaining accuracy and a sort of disconnection from the competitors is key, there is one athlete Dan is keeping a close watch for during these games.

“It’s so cool that I get to go over there and judge Ben Loomis who is a Flying Eagles Ski Club member here, right from my home club,” Dan added.

Loomis who will compete in his second Olympics in the Nordic Combined, says he was close to the Mattoons growing up and the enthusiasm is mutual.

“Dan Mattoon has been instrumental at the club and helping out at the facility so it’s cool to see that he is still involved in the sport and I’m excited to have him as a judge,” Loomis shared.

Mattoon competed in three Olympic trials as an athlete, barely missing out his final try. For him, this opportunity proves it’s never too late to achieve a dream.

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