Legends & Legacies: Jumping around Highlands
“Jumping for joy at Aspen Highlands,” declared the Aspen Times on January 3, 1980. “It all began with Stein Eriksen in the early 1960s. Stein was director of skiing at Aspen Highlands and one of the earliest acrobatic skiers. He did a back flip off a bump close to the spot where the Highlands ski patrol shack has now been built, near the top of the Cloud Nine chairlift. That shack was built in the late ’60s. It had a small deck. In their spare time, patrolmen built a small jump and one dare led to another, until they were jumping over portions of that deck. Over a period of about six years, the patrol jump became a regular noon event. The patrolmen jumped over the deck to the delight of skiers who were eating cheese and wine and partying on the deck. Tricks were added. The show became more and more spectacular. As many as 600 persons would take time out from their skiing to watch. The lip of the jump these days is seven feet from the deck. The deck itself, made of wooden planks, stretches 47 feet 6 inches away to a steep landing. Kim Atkins does the most difficult jump, a helicopter turn that requires tremendous speed coming into the lip, but Mac Smith usually climaxes the show with another dangerous feat, pulling a toboggan over the jump.”
The image above, which ran with this article, is captioned “Mac Smith, head of the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol, takes a toboggan over the deck.”
This photo and more can be found in the Aspen Historical Society archives at aspenhistory.org.
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