International Ski Jump competition coming back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

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Great Lakes Sports Commission revitalizes one of the largest artificial ski jumps in the world

Marty Fittante, InvestUP CEO; Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Fritz Erickson, NMU President and GLSC Commissioner; Walter Hofer, FIS Race Director; Nita Englund, Olympic ski jumper; Bill Demong, Olympic Ski jumper, Executive Director USA Nordic, and GLSC Commissioner; Gary Rasmussen, Head Coach Ishpeming Ski Club; Rex Bell, President USA Nordic Sports

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan, the birthplace of organized skiing, was the ideal location to gather State and industry leaders to celebrate the official announcement of the State of Michigan’s investment in sports and tourism in Northern Michigan. This investment leads to the return of competitive World Cup skiing in Michigan.

The event was hosted by the leadership that collectively represents the Great Lakes Sports Commission (GLSC). The organization was formed to promote Northern Michigan as a destination for world-class competitions that will enhance the economy and showcase the Upper Peninsula, as well as the rest of the State, as a premier global recreation destination.

In December 2018, the State of Michigan made a $10 million dollar investment to be used generally for the benefit of world-class events promoting sports-related tourism and recreation.  That investment led to the creation of the GLSC to help expand and support recreational projects to attract tourism and talent in Northern Michigan. The Commission was formed to manage a sustainable fund which will be used for transformative projects that will also generate significant economic opportunity.

For example, the Pine Mountain Ski Jump, which is the first prospect that the Commission is looking to support, brings with it an opportunity to host a World Cup competition. The World Cup, by some local estimates, which are derived from the impact the annual Continental Cup currently has to the community, would amount to about $3 million a year.

In a rural community the size of Iron Moutain, Michigan, that is a significant economic impact. Other Upper Peninsula communities like Ironwood and Marquette, which are as equally as welcoming and appealing as Iron Mountain, are excited about the opportunity to build out other world-class events. Ironwood would see the transformation of the Copper Peak Ski Jump, which would be the world’s only ski flying hill with a summer surface. Marquette would see an Olympic training ice climbing wall at Northern Michigan University. 

Yesterday, during announcement event at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke specifically about the economic opportunity attendant to the Commission’s work, and the important role sports like ski jumping and venues like Pine Mountain play in the tourism industry and State’s economy stating, “In 2017 visitors to our State spent more than $1.2 billion in the Upper Peninsula alone. This ski jump will help attract even more visitors and will solidify the U.P. as a year round travel destination. The U.P. has always been a world-class destination for outdoor recreation; people come to the U.P. from all over the world.”

Dr. Walter Hofer, Race Director for the International Ski Federation (FIS), traveled from the Austrian Alps for a trip just shy of 48 hours to join Governor Whitmer in Wednesday’s celebration. Dr. Hofer is attributed with making the niche sport of ski jumping popular worldwide during nearly the 30 years that he has led FIS as Race Director. Dr. Hofer discussed how valuable key venues in the Upper Peninsula, like Copper Peak and Pine Mountain, are to the sport. “We have had Olympians from this country, but not an Olympic level competition here. I think it is time to use all the sources around this beautiful area (the Upper Peninsula) to provide an international competition here.” Hofer went on to say, “We would like to host World Cup events here, we would like to host ski flying events here, the right place for us is here.”

Olympian Nita Englund; Gary Rasmussen, Head Coach Ishpeming Ski Club; Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Bill Demong, Olympian and Executive Director, USA Nordic stand with young ski jumpers

“With this investment from the State of Michigan, the Upper Peninsula could become the center of ski jumping in the United States.” shared Bill Demong, the USA’s first Olympic gold medalist in Nordic Skiing and current Executive Director of USA Nordic. It is the vision of the GLSC to support the growth of ski jumping and other world class competitions in the Upper Peninsula. They will bring worldwide recognition to the outdoor recreation opportunities available across the region, as many competitors, their entourages, and their fans will travel from across North America, Europe, and beyond to elite level competitions hosted in U.P. communities.

About Great Lakes Sports Commission

For more information, visit www.greatlakessportscommission.org.

About InvestUP

InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula. www.investupmi.com

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