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      Someplace Special: Pine Mountain Ski Jump

      Each year it attracts thousands of spectators and dozens of athletes from all over the globe, and its towering presence can be seen in many parts of Dickinson County. The Pine Mountain Ski Jump boasts a magnificent and breathtaking vista, as well as an opportunity for brave athletes to slide down the snowy slope.

      Though some of the techniques of ski jumping since its early beginnings have changed, the message is still the same: ski jumping at Pine Mountain is one thing that makes the Upper Peninsula someplace special. In the wintertime, the jump is famous for the hosting the Continental Cup where thousands of cold, but excited spectators congregate each year to watch jumpers from all over the world compete, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of ski jumping at this special spot.

      The jump was originally constructed in 1937 and had its first competition in 1939. The tower is an enormous 176 feet high, and the entire jump is 380 feet long. â??Growing up here you always looked at it and said, 'One day maybe Iâ??ll go off that,â?? but you didn't think it'd be a reality. But then the reality sets in when your coach says, 'OK, we're going to go ski Pine Mountain,â?? said ski jumper Zak Hammill. Heâ??s been ski jumping for close to 15 years and is now a ski jumping coach. â??Iâ??ve always told people that you can start when you learn how to walk and you can jump until the day that you can't walk,â?? Hammill said.

      And though the jump does look dangerous and intimidating, Zak says the sport is actually very safe. â??Never had any crashes on this hill that have been notable. People do think it is an extremely dangerous sport; they look at this jump behind me and they say, 'That's a huge ski jump, my kids can't go off that, no way, he's going to get hurt,' but in all reality, it's really safe,â?? Hammill said. According to Zak, itâ??s all about progression; from a small starting jump the height of a shoebox, to the largest ski jump in the United States.