Government of Canada commemorates national historical significance of ski jumping at Mount Revelstoke with new installation.
Contributed by Parks Canada
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorated the historic role of Ski Jumping at Mount Revelstoke with a ceremony unveiling a new installation on July 8.
A Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque was unveiled at the Nels Nelsen Ski Jump in Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia, followed by the grand opening of Nels’ Knickers, a new interpretive experience exhibit.
Ski jumping, introduced in Canada by Scandinavian immigrants in the late 19th century, was one of the earliest forms of alpine skiing in the country. In 1916, a local Revelstoke ski club, together with the newly created Mount Revelstoke National Park and the town, built the platforms and judging tower that made the hill a venue for international competition. From 1916 to 1975, Mount Revelstoke would be the site of many ski jumping championships, and also became known for its vibrant winter festivals.
“As an immensely popular spectator sport in the early 20th century, ski jumping at Mount Revelstoke became an internationally recognized event where world class athletes came to compete,” said Parks Canada in a statement. “This designation reflects the rich heritage of our nation and provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history, especially during the 150th anniversary of our beautiful country.”
Many outstanding ski jumpers, including Nels Nelsen, Robert Lynburne, Isabel Coursier, and Hans Gunnarson, practiced the sport at Mount Revelstoke. Dazzling crowds with their thrilling jumps, they set world records in ski jumping and helped enhance Canada’s international stature in the sport.
Parks Canada invites Canadians to be inspired and captivated by the stories of the people, places, and events that shaped the Canada of today. Take advantage of free admission to Parks Canada places in 2017, and discover truly Canadian places and stories!
- Originally known as the magnificent “Big Hill”, and later renamed the “Nels Nelson Hill”, the lower slope of Mount Revelstoke was one of Canada’s earliest permanent ski jumps and the largest natural jump in the country.
- Nels Nelsen broke the world record in 1925 when he jumped 240 feet (73.2 meters). Isabel Coursier set the world female record in 1922 when she jumped 84 feet (25.6 meters). Bob Lynburne represented Canada at the 1932 Olympics and set a world record the next year when he jumped 287 feet (87.5 meters).
- Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of
Environment and climate change regarding the national historic significance of places, people, and events that have marked Canada’s history
In 1925, Nels Nelsen launched himself from one of the ski jump platforms high on the slopes of Mount Revelstoke in Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia. As he left the platform, he leaned forward, towards the tips of his skis. When Nelsen landed he had travelled 240 feet and broken a world record. This was not the first time Nelsen, a Revelstoke resident and Canadian Pacific Railway employee, had set a world record here and he was not the only skier to do so. From 1916 to 1975, Mount Revelstoke was the site of championship ski jumping competitions. A popular spectator sport in early 20th century Canada, these competitions were an integral part of Revelstoke’s vibrant winter festivals and later the Tournament of Champions. The magnificent “Big Hill,” which was later renamed the “Nels Nelsen Hill,” was one of Canada’s earliest permanent jumps and the largest natural ski jump in the country.
Skiing came to Canada with Scandinavian immigrants in the late 1800s. They introduced and promoted the sport, which included ski running (downhill races), skijoring (in which a skier is pulled, usually by a horse or a dog), ski touring (cross country) and ski jumping. At Revelstoke, where numerous Norwegians settled after working on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a ski club was formed in the early 1890s. In 1916, this club, together with the newly created Mt. Revelstoke National Park and the town, built the platforms and judging tower on the 600 meter hill that made Revelstoke a venue for international competitions.
In the first decades of the 20th century, Revelstoke produced many outstanding ski jumpers, including Nels Nelsen, Isabel Coursier, and Bob Lynburne. Nelsen is widely recognized for his world record jump in 1925 of 240 feet (73.2 meters). Coursier, in turn, was famous for her daring jumps and is recognized as having set the world female record in 1922 when she jumped 84 feet (25.6 meters). Bob Lynburne represented Canada at the 1932 Olympics and set a world record when he jumped 287 feet (87.5 meters) in 1933. Dazzling crowds with their thrilling jumps, these skiers set world records in ski jumping and helped enhance the country’s international stature in the sport.
Mount Revelstoke’s ski jump saw intense competition from 1916 to 1931 and again from 1950-1971, when it hosted the annual Tournament of Champions which attracted many internationally recognized ski jumpers. Although the “Big Hill” hosted its last competition in 1975, the skiing tradition lives on in Revelstoke at other venues. Visitors to Mount Revelstoke National Park can view the jump platforms and place themselves ‘at the edge of the abyss’ just as Nelsen, Coursier, and Lymburne did before they jumped. They can also explore the history of ski jumping at new interpretive displays at the top of the “Big Hill,” as well as at the Revelstoke Museum and Archives.