Ely and Ski Jumping had a rich history here, starting in 1923

From coast to coast, Ely has been mentioned in major newspapers

by Anne Swenson -

Ely certainly has been in the news lately. The Wall Street Journal’s “One Ski Jump. $1. Three Olympians?” (WSJ.com: A small club in the Chicago suburbs made a deal with a rural town in Minnesota to buy a $1 used ski jump. It may yield three Olympians.)
That made it sound as if it hadn’t been used here and Ely is full of bumpkins. Elyites would disagree with the WSJ that it is “smack in the middle of nowhere.”
Ely and Ski Jumping had a rich history here, starting in 1923 when a 30 meter jump was built on the hill southwest of Central Avenue and Pattison Street.
That was followed by a a 35 meter jump, purchased from Battle Creek, MI and located at Hidden Valley.
According to the Ely Echo’s “Ely, Since 1888” history book, “A scrapbook compiled by Bill (Willy) Sjoberg, dating back to 1936, shows that Ely names dominated ski jumping news in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, names which are still very familiar in Ely today: Willy Sjoberg, Edwin and Kenneth Janeksela, “Sailor” Bill Maki, Reino Tuomala, Clarence “Soapy” Hedloff, Ted Passi, Eino Wirta, Walter Jokela, Joe Pryatel, Walter Mattila, Bob and Sig Olson, Ray Nyman, Tom Murn, William Trudgeon, Tony Golobich, William Lampi, Albert Saari, Art Murphy, Leonard Nappa, Lenny Pete, Clarence Carlson and Pat Markovich.
With the addition of a 40 meter slide in 1959, the junior program expanded over the next 23 years. “The Ely Ski Club boasted of having as many as 60 ski jumpers in those early years and ski jumps were as much a part of Ely’s skyline as any mine shaft.”
“The success of this junior program was very evident in the number of Ely ski jumpers who gained fame in national and international competitions.
Jim Grahek, a product of this program, was the first Ely ski jumper to become a member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980. Prior to this, there were four Junior National Champions: Bob Banovetz in 1961, Bob Hedloff in 1963, Mike Williams in 1978 and his brother Tim in 1980, who earned his title in Eau Claire, Wis. at Senior Nationals. Jim Grahek and Tim Williams were also members of the U.S. Ski Team for two years. Grahek was a U.S. Junior National Coach for one year, and a member of the USSA Coaching Pool.
“From the year 1959 on to 1982, Ely had representation at Junior National competitions excepting years 1967 and 1972. Those ski jumpers were Fuzzy Winnikainen, Mickey Tomsich. Bob Banovetz, Jack Jeffrey, Louie Kalan, John Jokela, Bob Hedloff, Ron Sjoberg, Mike Struna, Rick Nappa, Ernie Korkki, Tom Cherne, Ward Patterson, Jim Grahek, Mark Cherne, Larry Buchner, Jeff Bauman, Torn Chmielewski, Tim Williams, Jerry Skubic, Mike Williams, Pat Magie, Steve Drechsler, Mark Mikolich, Mike Moren, Scott Drechsler and Doug Williams.
“Many of these athletes made the national teams several years in a row, and all were fine representatives of Ely and the ski club. As the ski club grew, the slides became well worn from use, and of course just from weathering throughout the years.”
The Ely Ski Club soon found that if it had a 60 meter slide with frost rail and bubble track, that would allow its use year around. Over $530,000 later and many hours of donated club labor, in 1985 Matti Nykanen, the world’s foremost ski jumping champion was first off the slide. The 1986 World Cup Event was held in Ely and the following year, the Junior Nationals.
By 1993, interest in and competition to find volunteers for overlapping winter events - sled dog races as well as ski jumping - caused those programs to fail as interest faded. In 2003 The Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Illinois offered $1 for it. It took the Norge another $500,000 to get it ready to use. And it appears its program, with more people from which to draw, is growing.
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From coast to coast, Ely has been mentioned in major newspapers:
“Sledding, snowshoes and a sauna: Four friends find winter fun in northern Minnesota” the Chicago Tribune, Jan. 3 article by Kelly Smith is an article wherein she described “Northern Minnesota’s tiny Scandinavian city of Ely ”where “half the town moved south for the winter.” The Twin Cities women had fun dog sledding and sauna-ing here. http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-trav-winter-fun-ely-m...
Dog sledding in Ely was also mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle article: “Dead-of-winter trips from northern lights to festivals” which was also picked up by the Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/dead-of-winter-delights-from-no...
No mention of whether Thursday morning’s -37° would be a deterrent.
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