They were, but not at Sochi. Iron Mountain is more like it. Sixty jumpers, eleven countries, 11,000 spectators. Good weekend for the Slovenians.
Saturday's event went off under ideal conditions and in front of a record crowd of 11,343 fans. All rows of parking were full on the Pine Mountain Resort grounds, with parked cars overflowing well onto Pine Mountain Road.Because of the Olympics, there were more competitors in Michigan. Sounds strange, but many of the other scheduled competitions evidently shut down. High winds on Sunday precluded that day's events.
"There were more people here Saturday than any of us in the club can ever remember," Kiwanis Ski Club spokesperson Susie Fox said.
On the other hand, the hostelries acquitted themselves well. No reports of mal-hung doors, yellow water (how does one say "yellow snow" in Russian?), upside-down toilet seats, or fouled up reservations.
“We enjoy watching the ski jumps and the young guys come off the hill,” said spectator, Beaver Reddinger. “It’s a big, old tailgating party and people come out and have a good time.”Make no small plans. Why not hold the Winter Olympics along the Wisconsin-Michigan border? Lake Superior snowbelt with reliable snow almost every year, lots of open country for the cross-country events, maybe extend deer season for a special kind of biathlon, and I can think of no holier place to hold the opening and closing ceremonies than Lambeau Field. But you'd have to design a "cauldron" that works more like the World's Biggest Bratwurst Grill to get the ambience right. And visiting Russian Mafia types could check out Al Capone's northerly lair.
The Kiwanis Ski Club said they reported a record number of spectators on Saturday, anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 people, something they haven't seen in years. And with many people visiting and over 60 athletes and their coaches in Iron Mountain for the weekend, those in the hospitality industry say it's one of their busiest times.
“They come from all over; they draw from Green Bay, Milwaukee, the Northern U.P.,” said General Manager of EconoLodge in Iron Mountain, Paul Swanson. “They come from all over; it's a very unique event.”
The EconoLodge hosts all of the ski jumpers and their coaches every year.
“They’ve been coming here for over six years now. They start coming in on Wednesday, and we're full right on through Sunday; they typically check out on Monday morning,” Swanson said.
They said they were so full this weekend they had to keep sending people to other hotels for rooms. It was a weekend full of athletic talent, community camaraderie, and economic impact.