Ski jumping was what put Revelstoke on the map as a winter sports destination in the early 20th century.
Now, 100 years after the first ski jumping competition on the Big Hill in Mount Revelstoke National Park, the activity has been given National Historic Destination.
Ski jumping at Mount Revelstoke was one of 38 persons, places and events to be given the designation by Catherine McKenna, the federal minister in charge of Parks Canada, on Monday.
Revelstoke hosted its first ski jumping contest as part of its 1915 winter carnival. In 1916, the jump moved to the Big Hill in Mount Revelstoke National Park. Local hero Nels Nelsen won the inaugural competition on the jump.
The hill was the site of three official world records. The first was by American Henry Hall, who leapt a distance of 229 feet in 1921. Nelsen topped Hall’s mark in 1925 when he jumped 240 feet. Another local, Bob Lymburne, was the last to set a record on the hill when he jumped 287 feet in 1933.
The Revelstoke jump was both admired and feared for its challenge. In 1931, at a national competition, many jumpers from eastern Canada refused to leap off the Big Hill, deeming it too dangerous. The judges moved the contest to the smaller, 50-metre jump, but Lymburne defied them by going off the big jump, much to the delight of the crowd. The episode was dubbed the Big Fiasco.
The Big Hill was the site of major competitions from 1916–1931, and again from 1950–1971, when it was re-built and re-named the Nels Nelsen Hill. The annual Tournament of Champions attracted competitors from the around the world. However, over time, interest in jumping dwindled in Revelstoke and the last tournament was held in 1975.