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Spencer Knickerbocker competing at Harris Hill in 2009.

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Training program is set to launch young ski jumpers

Decline in local participation prompts push for new recruits

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger and can be purchased at the gate or online at www.brownpapertickets.com. Advance discount admission of $15 for adults and $12 for students ages 6 to 12 are available at locations listed at www.harrishillskijump.com.

BRATTLEBORO—Want to leap the big height of Harris Hill, New England’s only Olympic-size ski jump? You have to start small.

That’s why event organizers are joining with the Brattleboro Outing Club to launch a junior training program for boys and girls ages 8 to 13.

Before the Interstate or internet, dozens of local students learned the sport on smaller nearby slopes before skyrocketing off the 90-meter hill that’s one of just six of its size in the country.

But hometown participation has decreased to the point that only one native jumper — Spencer Knickerbocker, a 25-year-old Marlboro College junior — now competes at the annual Fred Harris Memorial Tournament, set this year for the weekend of Feb. 17-18, according to a news release.

Event organizers hope to change that by training interested youngsters twice a week at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River starting this month and continuing for as long as snow remains.

Students with some downhill or Nordic experience and their own skis, boots, and helmets can learn how to jump by contacting Todd Einig, Harris Hill’s chief of competition, at einigt@yahoo.com.

“Hopefully in a few years,” Einig says, “we can get more hometown kids jumping.”

Knickerbocker and fellow Marlboro College student Chris Lamb, 28 of Andover, N.H., are set to represent the region in this month’s once-a-year competition.

They’ll join nearly 40 of the best up-and-coming ski jumpers from North America and Europe who are expected to participate in the nearly century-old event.

Since its start in 1922, Harris Hill annually has attracted several thousand spectators to watch athletes shoot down the jump at speeds of up to 60 mph before soaring more than 300 feet in the air.

The site boasts a snowmaking system, so the event will take place regardless of ground cover in surrounding areas.

This year’s competition will feature the annual Pepsi Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 17, and Fred Harris Memorial Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 18. Gates will open each day at 10 a.m., with trial rounds at 11 a.m. and opening ceremonies and competition at noon.

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Tamara Stenn
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Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

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Judith Skillman
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Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

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Peter Ford
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Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

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TB Smith
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TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

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Amelia Stone
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Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #445 (Wednesday, February 7, 2018). This story appeared on page A1.

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