Exhibition showcases ski jumping's development in the Pacific Northwest

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Exhibition showcases ski jumping's development in the Pacific Northwest
Olav Ulland, Gustav Raaum, Alf Engen, and Kjell Stordalen perform a four-person simultaneous ski jump at Sun Valley, Idaho, December 1948. NNM 1999.060.061.

SEATTLE, WA.- The National Nordic Museum and the Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum present Sublime Sights: Ski Jumping and Nordic America. The exhibition opens April 17 and will be on view at the National Nordic Museum through July 18.

Sublime Sights draws from the National Nordic Museum’s rich permanent collection of nearly 80,000 objects. The exhibition features equipment, photographs, film clips, and oral history interviews to showcase ski jumping’s development in the Pacific Northwest as well as demonstrate its cultural significance.

“We are so grateful to the Board of the Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum, especially to WSSM Co-Founder and President Dave Moffett for bringing this idea to the curatorial team at the National Nordic Museum, and to Kirby Gilbert and John Lundin who shared their expertise and enthusiasm for the sport as content advisors,” said Executive Director/CEO Eric Nelson.

Visitors will be transported to ski jumping’s heyday in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to telling the stories of ski jumping superstars, the exhibition highlights lesser-known pioneers in the sport, including Norwegian-born Olga Bolstad. In 1917, Bolstad won the first annual ski jumping tournament at Mount Rainier. She defeated all male competitors that year and received several press mentions in the two years that followed, including for winning a special cup for a “perfect jump, with perfect landing” as the only female entrant in 1919. Her success was cut tragically short when she died at age 26 in 1919.

“Olga Bolstad’s story is remarkable. Bolstad spent a portion of her youth in Trysil, an important location in the history of Norwegian skiing. After immigrating to the United States and settling in Seattle, she worked in the laundry industry. Concurrently, this intrepid individual remained connected to her roots through recreation, through ski jumping,” said Leslie Anderson, Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs.

Sublime Sights explores the ski jumping’s golden age in early-mid 20th century and the specific circumstances that led to its early success in Washington State. The sport launched in late 19th-century Norway, a period that also marked a mass immigration to North America. Upon arrival in the Pacific Northwest, Norwegian-Americans found familiar terrain and environmental conditions favorable to ski jumping. Among the Nordic community in Washington, ski jumping became a popular pastime and a preserved cultural tradition for practitioners and spectators alike.

Midsummer tournaments began on Mount Rainier in 1917, and expanded statewide as new ski clubs formed. Washington State quickly attracted many of world's best jumpers.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the National Nordic Museum and the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum are creating several virtual events for those who want to learn more.

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