Ski jumping was all the rage in Red Wing from 1883 to 1950, when a wind storm knocked down the scaffolding and it was never rebuilt. Now, just before the Winter Olympics open, and 131 years after Norwegian brothers Mikkel and Torjus Hemmestvedt imported the sport to the Mississippi River bluffs, Red Wing is home to the new American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum.
“Hardly anyone in Red Wing realizes we hosted national competitions that were like the Super Bowl of the sport,” said Jerry Borgen, 84, who lives near the old ski-jumping hill.
Those events in 1928 and ’36 drew hordes of 25,000 people.
The new museum is the brainchild of Borgen and 1992 U.S. Olympic ski jumper Bryan Sanders, 43, of Stillwater. They’ve been working on getting the museum in Red Wing since 2008.
The Saint James Hotel offered a three-year, rent-free lease and Borgen and Sanders landed (pun intended) a $50,000 grant from the Red Wing Area Fund to transform an old hotel beauty shop.
Although currently only open by appointment, they’re working on arranging work-study students from a nearby technical college to staff the museum on weekends within a few months. Along with photos, uniforms and a diorama, the museum has a pair of skis used in the sport from every decade since the 1880s.
(Borgen, left, and Sanders)