How did three US Olympic hopefuls rank on the largest-ever man-made night ski-jumping structure? (in Portland, Oregon, in 1951)
The 1951 Rose Festival was building up to the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympic Games by hosting an international ski jump competition: The Golden Rose. During the summer of 1951, a 155-foot-high structure designed by engineer Peter Hostmark rose in the Portland skyline above Multnomah Stadium (today’s Providence Park). The 15-story-high structure was covered with 200 tons of snow and was intended to promote winter sports at Mt. Hood. The newspapers called it the largest man-made hill built for night ski jumping.
Among the 19-man field of A-class jumpers were three who qualified for the United States Olympics team. They hurtled down a 35-degree incline on a surface of finely ground ice to catapult high above the stadium roof in front of a crowd of 23,024 spectators. (The event proved so popular that the jump was rebuilt in 1953 to host the International Ski Jump Competition.)
The three qualifiers were:
Keith R. Wegeman (3rd)
12th place in Olso, placing best among Americans. This native of Denver started skiing at age three.
(known as the “Jolly Green Giant”, later technical director at Squaw Valley in the 1960 Olympics and inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1989. Link: Video of Top Seven Facts about Keith R. Wegeman.)
Arthur E. (Art) Tokle (4th)
18th place in Oslo
(Norwegian-born American ski jumper who competed for the USA, inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame in 1970, and technical director for the US team in the 1980 Winter Olympics.)
Willis S. (Billy) Olsen (5th)
The young American came in 22nd place in Oslo, 43rd place in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956. Known in ski jumping circles as Billy the Kid.
(inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1972)
Torbjørn Falkanger (2nd)
A young Norwegian who came in second to his fellow countryman Christian Mohn in Portland, Oregon ended up earning a silver medal in the 1952 Winter Olympics in ski jumping.