Snow sports: Slippery slopes ahead this weekend, February 7, 2013

First things first: Snow, likely big snow, is on the way — Friday into Saturday.

We’ve had precious few powder days this season, and hardly any going into the weekend, so it’s about time the natural order of the universe is restored and we get some real skiing in over the next few days on some soft stuff.

Strap on your boards and get ready to shred. Remember, snow is no reason not to drive to ski country — quite the opposite.

Ski jumping at Harris Hill
Coming up the weekend of Feb. 16-17 is one of New England’s most spectacular winter sports events — an elite-level ski jumping competition at Brattleboro, Vt.’s classic Harris Hill.

This world class Nordic 90-meter jump, a 90-minute drive from Worcester, opened in 1922 and was rebuilt in 2009 after a major grass-roots fundraising drive.

This is the second year that Harris Hill will be a venue for an FIS- (International Ski Federation) sanctioned competition, the only FIS jumping event in the United States this season.

Also over the weekend, there will be a separate jumping event as part of the USASJ (USA Ski Jumping) Cup tour.

Last season, more than 3,000 spectators jammed the 300-foot-tall structure and the cornfield below to watch the jumpers soar distances of 300 feet and reach speeds exceeding 60 mph.

Competition starts at 11 a.m. each day, with gates opening at 10. There’s a beer garden, food vendors, and a festive, Euro-style family atmosphere with fans clanging cow bells and cheering loudly for the athletes.

Admission is $15 each day, which goes to the nonprofit foundation that runs the hill; $12 for kids 6-12, and kids 5 and under are admitted free.

Among the 25 jumpers are athletes from Holland, Korea, Japan, Slovenia and Ukraine, in addition to the U.S., which is sending, among others, local Brattleboro-bred Nordic combined and jumping star Spencer Knickerbocker, 18.

“It’s the coolest event in Vermont in the winter,” said Melissa Gullotti, a Hudson native who is the spokeswoman for the Nordic extravaganza. “It’s off the charts.”