EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A popular sporting event returns to Eau Claire next week for the 134th time.
Ski jumpers from the United States and beyond will soon be competing in the Silver Mine invitational. Hill crews are putting the final touches at Silver Mine Hill, one of only five 90-meter Olympic level ski jump hills in the entire county.
"Eau Claire is one of the life bloods of the sport of ski jumping,” said Silver Mine Tournament Director, Dan Mattoon.
The 134th Annual Silver Mine Invitational Tournament is fast approaching. That means making final preparations for the competition.
“What we are doing right now is letting the snow set up, become hard and then we will set the track, put a track cutter through there and after that, we put about 600 gallons of water on the in-run,” Mattoon said. “The snow will absorb that and become just ice.”
Zach Jastrow is the Chief of Hill for Silver Mine.
“Right now, the Snow-Cat is on the hill grooming the snow,” Jastrow said. “Once that's groomed and smoothed out, we'll work it with rakes by hand. We like to put our finishing touch on it before they ski.”
Paul Jastrow is Silver Mine’s Chief of Competition.
“That usually takes a couple days for it to set up. We are looking really good,” he said.
The recent stretch of warm weather didn't seem to affect crews
“90% of the snow here we make it all anyway,” Mattoon said.
We had made a lot of snow, stockpiled snow, before that warm weather,” Paul said. “All we had to do was sit and wait.”
While Silver Mine may not be as flashy as other hills.
“We have a ski jump that looks kind of not so good, but when they get up there and jump this hill, they are amazed at how great and fun the hill is and safe,” Mattoon said.
“The best thing out of anything out here is when a skier from Europe or wherever they come from come and say, 'This hill looks awesome, this hill skis awesome,'” Zach said.
For Mattoon, he said people in Eau Claire may not be aware of the level of competition that is at this event.
“It's so cool to see the jumpers fly by you going about 55 mph and you hear the air movements,” he said. “You can come out and watch this event Friday and Saturday and you will be amazed.”