Imagine you are Nels Nelsen teetering on the dizzying in-run of the ski jump. Now slide forward and look down into a blinding blizzard. Between the tips of your homemade wooden skis, find the landing zone far below. Listen as cheers from the spectators rise to hail you. Over your shoulder, the foreign voices of waiting competitors - Swiss, Swedish, French and Italian - whisper about smashing the world record. The blaring bugle from far beneath signals that all is ready; the ski-stomped surface of the landing is clear. Anticipate adrenalin. The frantic flapping of butterfly wings in your stomach. Fear. Excitement. Resolve. Focus. Poise. Concentration. Crouch down, push off, explode from the start zone and lose your weight in graceful freefall...
Skiing in the Revelstoke area began around 1980 when a Scandinavian miner named Ole Sandberg used a pair of homemade wooden skis, or "Norwegian snowshoes" to decend from his mine. Frank Wells, pioneer merchant of "gents' furnishings and furs," was the first to sell skis in Revelstoke and helped establish the Revelstoke Ski Club in 1891. The club first organized ski jumping events on Mount Revelstoke in 1915, and this thrilling sport attracted competitors and spectators from around the world for the next six decades.
Records were smashed and tales of daring exploits on the "Big Hill", as the slope came to be known were told around the globe. It was the largest natural ski jump ever developed in Canada, and the only site in the country where world records were set. A special 60 metre hill was built to enable the Olympic Trials to be held here in 1951, in anticipation of the Oslo Olympics of 1952.
Soaring from Mount Revelstoke in 1916, Nels Nelsen, a Norwegian immigrant to Revelstoke, set a new world record of 57 metres. He held the Canadian record until 1932, breaking his own record five times and setting world records here in 1921 and 1925.
Isabel (Pat) Coursier set an unofficial women's world record of 26 metres on a Mount Revelstoke jump in 1923 and was the only women that year to compete unassisted. Other "glider girls," as they were known, went off the jump holding hands with a male partner. Coursier went on to competitions across North America, often breaking new ground for women's competitive sport.
In 1933, Bob Lymbourne established a world record at this site with an 88 metre jump.
The Great Fiasco: Despite being the Revelstoke Ski Club jump for over ten years, the 'Big Hill' was deemed too dangerous for the jumpers at the 1931 Dominion Championships. Vancouver and Ottawa officials were not accustomed to so large a jump and some of the visiting competitors were afraid of it. Defying the judges' edict to use the smaller jump, local skier Bob Lymbourne made four perfect flights, each over 70 metres from the big hill and emerged as the hero of the day.
World Record Jumps:
88m - Bob Lymbourne 1933
57m - Nels Nelsen, 1916
26m - Isabel Coursier, 1923