Big Nansen ski jump restoration gets boost

$500K grant to go towards reinforcing ski jump tower
Big Nansen Ski Jumppng
The Nansen Ski Jump in Milan (Photo by Rachel Cohen, NHPR)

The Nansen Ski Club was notified that its agreement was officially executed for the federal “Save America’s Treasures” grant that will provide up to $500,000 to continue the rehabilitation of the Big Nansen Ski Jump.

The grant, which was acquired through U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office, was formally approved on Aug. 8. The grant requires a one-to-one match and Nansen Ski Club and Friends of Big Nansen Treasurer Scott Halvorson said the group is halfway through its goal to raise $500,000 to meet the match requirement and generate a total of $1 million for the rehabilitation.

“This is a huge step towards restoring the Big Nansen,” Halvorson said, noting the money will be used to structurally reinforce the tower. While he said the tower is in remarkably good shape for its age, a previous engineering study determined some of the tower is overstressed and the steel needs to be reinforced.

“It gives us significant funds to reinforce the 86-year-old tower that is needed to accommodate the modern design required for ski jumping events to resume on the historic structure,” Halvorson said.

The state of New Hampshire owns the jump and the Bureau of Historic Sites has committed $200,000 in Moose Plate revenues to help with the match and the club has raised $50,000 so far. While the Friends have until Sept. 30, 2026, to raise the remaining $250,000, Halvorson said it is imperative to complete the fundraising as soon as possible. He noted the grant is a “spend as you go” grant and once construction gets underway, the funds will be used up quickly. He said the plan is to do the construction in 2024 and said it should be completed in a few months.

Halvorson said now that the agreement is executed, the Friends can now proceed, following grant procurement protocol, to seek a firm this fall to design the improvements that would then go out for bids from contractors to do the actual work.

Also occurring now, as part of a separate grant, the Friends are currently in the final stages of selecting a snowmaking consultant to identify a water source and design a snowmaking plan for the property. They will then go out for bids and hire a contractor to do that work in 2024 as well. The snowmaking effort is being funded by a $350,000 federal Northern Border Regional Commission grant requiring a $87,500 match with $50,000 of it coming from the N.H. Bureau of Historic Sites.

While working to restore the Big Nansen Jump, the Friends have continued efforts to renew interest in the sport of ski jumping. Two jumping events were held last winter, for the second year in a row, on the 39-meter and 10-meter jumps that have been added to the property through the efforts of the group. Halvorson said two jumping events are also planned for next winter in late January and early February.

The Nansen Ski Club is partnering with the Mount Washington Valley Ski Jumping out of North Conway in recruiting and training young jumpers. Chip Henry, Kennett High School and MWVSJ coach, has agreed to be Nansen’s “coach” while the club grows its own jumping program.

Halvorson said Nansen has made significant strides in attracting some local kids to the sport.

The Save America’s Treasures grant program, through the Historic Preservation Fund, is designed to help preserve the country’s significant historic properties. It is administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The Big Nansen Ski Jump was built in 1937 by the National Youth Administration and at the time, was the tallest ski jump in the world. In its inaugural event, in 1938, the jump hosted the very first U.S. Olympic jumping tryouts followed in 1939 by the FIS World Championships. The last jumping event was held in 1985 and the structure was officially abandoned in 1988.

In 2014, a local group, the Friends of the Nansen Ski Jump (now Big Nansen), was formed and partnered with the N.H. Bureau of Historic Sites to begin cleaning up the site culminated by, in 2017, former World Champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, sponsored by Red Bull Energy Drink, jumping off the Big Nansen. The effort to restore the jump and the sport of jumping has continued since then.

People who have questions or concerns about the jumps or the Save America’s Treasures grant can contact Scott Halvorson of the Nansen Ski Club by email at, or at Nansen Ski Club, P.O. Box 222, Berlin, 03570.

Donations can be made through the website to the Big Nansen Ski Jump Restoration.

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