American ski jumper and Team Visa athlete Sarah Hendrickson returned to the ski jump this week after a devastating knee injury that put her out of World Cup competition for 18 months. Her comeback was historic not for her score or ranking but for where the jump took place.
The iconic Nansen Ski Jump, a towering 171-foot-tall steel structure built in 1938 in Milan, New Hampshire, was neglected for more than 30 years before Hendrickson helped initiate the restoration effort. The jump, nicknamed “Big Nansen,” hosted the first Olympic ski jumping qualifiers in 1938 and was a training and competition ground for the Nansen Ski Club, the country’s oldest continually operating ski club. Hendrickson’s comeback coincided with Big Nansen’s comeback after a year-long process of modernizing the jump in a bid for National Historic Landmark status by the Department of Interior. The jump would be Big Nansen’s last before retiring it from ski jumping events.