ISHPEMING - Most people only make it a point to visit the Suicide Bowl ski jump area once a year for the annual winter ski jumping tournament. This summer, however, area kids and parents are getting the chance to become a lot more familiar with the facilities thanks to some new summer programs sponsored by the Ishpeming Ski Club.
"A lot of the parents are interested in running and biking," said Kate LaFave, whose son Tom is one of the club's young ski jumpers.
With that interest from the parents, the Ishpeming Ski Club is offering not only summer ski jumping practice on the plastic-coated hills, but also a youth running club and a youth mountain biking club this year, open to all area youth who want to participate.
This summer, in addition to summer ski jumping practice, shown here, the Ishpeming Ski Club is offering two new programs for kids: a running club and a mountain biking club. The three programs will help make increased use of the Suicide Bowl ski jumping facilities. (Journal file photo by Johanna Boyle)
Both the biking and running clubs will be led by parent volunteers, focused on teaching the kids the basic techniques of each activity.
The biking group meets at 6 p.m. Mondays at Suicide Bowl, located off County Road between Ishpeming and Negaunee. Beginning riders will ride along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, while those with more experience will have the chance to explore the trails around the ski jumping facility.
The running club meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays in the same location, with kids working up to be able to run the 2-mile run held during Pioneer Week on July 9 in Negaunee. Kids can also work up to being able to do the Suicide Splash kids' run as part of the Suicide Bowl Mud Plunge on Aug. 27.
Parents are welcome to either bike or run with their kids as part of the two programs.
Of course, interested kids are also invited to try out ski jumping. Practices run Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
With around 15 young ski jumpers, LaFave said the club is also welcoming a new coach this year, Zak Hammill, a native of Iron Mountain, who has been ski jumping for 16 years.
"The kids just love him," LaFave said of the new coach. "He's energetic and youthful."
While LaFave said the club hopes that kids participating in the new running or biking clubs might become interested in trying ski jumping, the main goals of the program are to get kids active and make use of the ski jumping facilities.
"It's definitely a confidence booster," LaFave said of the program's impact on kids. "To see him (son, Tom) so strong and so proud of himself.
"He's recognizing he wants to be strong and healthy."
Questions about the ski jumping program or the running or biking clubs can be directed to LaFave at 906-362-1329 or Anne Giroux at 906-361-0847.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.