As much as we love skiing in the Sierras, we also spent some time at the Winter Sports School where we learned, among other things, how to ski jump on an Olympic-scale jump in Park City. Today, Utah Olympic Park is the closest major ski jump to Reno, but it wasn’t always this way. For most of the first two-thirds of the century, California was the prime location for ski jumps and hosted both Olympic events and national championship. There has been about a dozen former ski jumps in California in the last 100 plus years. Here are the four ski jumps that has most captured our imagination and makes us wonder what they were like.
Galena Creek Ski Jump: Starting in 1931 at Galena Creek near Reno, for many years, the highlight of this ski area was a ski jumping hill. With a 30m K-point, this jump was also accompanied with a warming hut funded by Washoe County. In the 1960s, the University of Nevada’s Ski Team managed the ski jump, which also served as alternate location for the 1960 Olympic Games. Today, this area is still used for winter recreation such as snowshoeing.
Auburn Donner Pass Jumps: The founders of the Auburn Ski Club were known as avid ski jumpers. They also grew up during what was arguably the hey-day of ski jump areas in the United States. Built during 1939, this ski jump with a 40m K-point hosted several national championships. Ski jumping activities were eventually moved to Donner Pass near Truckee, but today there are still remnants of smaller ski jumps at Auburn.
Squaw Valley Papoose Peak Jumps: This ski jump facility was an impressive combination of three natural hills. The principal ski jump at Little Papoose Peak ski jump was created specifically for the 1960 Olympic Games and had a K-point of 80m. It was also renovated and upgraded in 1975 for the National Championships, but was allowed to fall into disrepair shortly after. Today, the slope is still used for downhill skiing.
Tahoe City Olympic Hill: In 1928, a group of ski jumpers who were part of the Lake Tahoe Ski Club agreed with the landlord of the Tahoe Tavern to construct a ski jumping hill. Completed in 1930, this jump had a 60m K-point and broke some records for longest jumps along the way and was for a time one of the most famous ski jumps in the entire country. Today, this area is a simple resort with minimal downhill ski runs.