Nansen Odd Couple: 22-year old champ and 80-year old jump

By Chris Jensen

InDepthNH.org

MILAN — Early next month, a 22-year-old ski champion and an 80-year-old ski jump that was abandoned in 1985 are expected to make a high-flying comeback together.

The skier is Sarah Hendrickson. She was born about nine years after the 1985 closing of the Nansen ski jump, a 171-foot steel tower that overlooks Milan, a town of 1,300 people on the Androscoggin River in Northern New Hampshire.

Hendrickson was the 2012 World Cup champion, but then suffered a serious leg injury in 2015. She has since returned to competition and is aiming at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Her inanimate partner, the Nansen ski jump, was built during 1936 and 1937. It was a community effort led by ski enthusiasts and was used for the 1938 Olympic tryouts.

“At the time, it was the largest free-standing ski jump in the world. Other jumps were built on the side of a hill or mountain. It was all made out of steel,” said Walter Nadeau, the vice president of the Berlin and Coos County Historical Society.

The 1938 event attracted about 25,000 spectators and was broadcast on 87 radio stations nationwide, according to Nadeau. There was a campaign to make it part of the 1944 Winter Olympics, a hope extinguished by World War II.

Jumping at Nansen was exhilarating, said Bob Arsenault, 88, of Bethlehem, who started competing at Nansen in 1947, when he was in high school.

“I have a little bit of acrophobia, so standing at the top of the tower, especially it if was windy, I got a little bit frightened,” he said. “But once I started down the jump it was sheer ecstasy. Being airborne. Being in control of your flight.”

The last competition was held in 1985. Competitors were drawn to newer ski jumps and there weren’t enough volunteers to maintain the metal structure and 310-foot wooden runway, Nadeau said.

Once a source of regional pride, the jump was abandoned, increasingly hidden by trees and brush and lost in foggy memories. It didn’t even register with some locals as they drove along the adjacent Route 16.

“The significance of it was lost for a few generations,” said Jay Poulin, the secretary of the Friends of Nansen Ski Jump.

Hendrickson and Nansen connected when Red Bull, the energy-drink company that sponsors Hendrickson, heard about the ski jump being resurrected as a tourist attraction, said Ben Wilson, the director of the state’s Bureau of Historic Sites.
Red Bull asked her to jump so it could make a video.

“The restoration of Sarah and the restoration of the ski jump. So, lots of good warm and fuzzies,” Wilson said.

The state had already come up with $150,000 to fix up the structure and Red Bull added about $75,000, Wilson said.

Hendrickson said she loves the history of ski jumping and jumping at Nansen is a chance to experience a bit of it.

“For me it’s a fun way to take my mind off the competitive season and just kind of enjoy ski jumping for what it is,” she said.

Her home is in Park City, Utah, but her family once lived in New Hampshire and they knew about Nansen.

“I think the funniest part is that when I was talking to friends and family that lived in the area back there they were like ‘Oh, my gosh. You’re going to jump that hill. That jump is insane.’”

Hendrickson visited the tower in November and was not worried. She competes on bigger jumps.

“When I first saw it, it actually looked small to me. It is smaller than the normal jump. It was just kind of funny because people see the tower and immediately get freaked out,” she said.

But jumping from Nansen will be different because it has a “high-flying” design, said Jeff Hastings. He competed at Nansen in 1979 while at Williams College and in 1984 went on to take fourth place in the Winter Olympics at Sarajevo.

Contemporary ski jumps are designed so that the skier leaves the jump and then flies fairly close to the contour of the ground before landing. But that wasn’t the case at older jumps such as Nansen, according to Hastings.

“The old school was more pop you out there and let you come down, if you can. It is more exciting because you go way out there and then you are falling more instead of cruising over the ground,” he said. “I think she’ll have a fun jump.”

But she won’t be the first off the renovated jump.

Hendrickson said a younger skier from the junior team — who is about Hendrickson’s height and weight — will do a test jump. That will give Hendrickson’s coach a chance to gauge factors like speed and distance.

“Obviously we will take it just as safe with her, but she is used to jumping these older style hills because she is from the Midwest,” Hendrickson said. “So, she will kind of know what to expect. It gives me a little sigh of relief that I don’t have to be the first one to go off,” Hendrickson said.

The date of the jump hasn’t been disclosed, although the first week in March is the target. A major factor will be the weather. And Red Bull won’t be making any public announcement. It considers the event private.

It is similar to a movie being shot on any other state-owned property, said Wilson, the state official.

“It is way too complicated of an event to make public,” said Red Bull spokesman Michael Crocco.

But Wilson said there may be future events that would be open to the public and people will be able to visit the site after the jump.

"Call to Duty" night at River Drivers game Saturday

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — You can show your appreciation for local law enforcement while enjoying some fast-paced professional hockey this Saturday night, Feb. 25, at the "Call to Duty Memorial Night" at Notre Dame arena.

The Berlin River Drivers hockey team is hosting the night, which recognizes North Country law enforcement and those who have contributed to the Berlin "Call to Duty" Memorial. The Berlin Police Department is offering free game tickets to all North Country law enforcement as well as supporters of the memorial fund.

The memorial honors three Berlin police officers, Sgt. Paul Brodeur, Officer Dorman Wheelock and Officer Robert Devoid, who lost their lives in the line of duty with a monument at the police station as well as a scholarship fund. The fund provides scholarships to local students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency said the hope is the students will return to the area and serve in law enforcement.

Morency said the hockey night is an opportunity for his department to give back to the community for its support of the memorial fund. He said it also allows the public to show its support for law enforcement.

“It’s a great opportunity for the public to recognize the law enforcement profession in Coos County,” he said.

Mayor Paul Grenier, who is assisting the River Drivers, said people will also be treated to some excellent hockey. He said the second place River Drivers will be facing their arch rivals, the Danbury Titans, who are in a tight race with the Berlin team. Grenier said the River Drivers have been attracting large crowds as the competition heats up for the playoffs.

“It’s exceptionally good hockey,” he said.

The festivities Saturday night will begin at 7 p.m. The Berlin Police color guard will participate in a short ceremony recognizing the various police departments and law enforcement agencies. Relatives of the three officers will be present and Fred Devoid, representing the late officer Robert Devoid, will drop the puck to start the game.

There will be a 50-50 drawing and Berlin police will sell some memorial items with proceeds going to the fund.

Tickets are $10 at the door or $9 in advance and can be purchased at Rudy’s Market in Berlin or Gorham Hardware.

Openings for youth at federal Jobs Corps Center

By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun

MANCHESTER — Two very happy North Country enrollees — 21-year-old Alan Laflamme Jr. of Berlin and 19-year-old Lynnze Hollis of Woodsville — along with Business & Community Liaison Director John Miller proudly conducted a tour of the N. H. Job Corps Center campus on Dunbarton Road on Friday, Feb. 17.

The Job Corps Center is a federal career and technical education program that offers academic and hands-on real-world training in nine of the state’s most in-demand fields at a modern, remotely located campus at absolutely no cost to its students or their families.

Laflamme has been enrolled in the electrical trades program for 10 months and is aiming to qualify for an apprentice in order to become a fully licensed electrician. He also is working to earn a HiSET diploma, formerly GED.

Hollis, who earlier graduated from Woodsville High School and the Jobs for America's Graduates program, is enrolled in the clinical medical assistant program, which is not only an end itself but opens the door to more advanced training and certificates.

Other trade programs include advanced manufacturing (formerly called machine shop), facilities maintenance, security services, culinary arts, hospitality services, medical administrative assistant, and licensed nursing assistant.

Both students explained that everyone spends his or her first four weeks in the program taking intensive career preparation classes, spending an orientation week in each of four separate courses.

“Everyone learns all the acronyms and does some trades’ shadowing,” Laflamme said. “We had a chance to learn the rules and understand what’s expected of us — in our classes and in the four-student dormitory rooms.”

Successful completion results in an assignment to one of the nine programs.

“Students and instructors learn to recognize their learning styles so that their programs can be individualized and geared to the right pace,” Miller explained. “All of our instructors have years of experience working in the field they teach, and our students come out of those programs with a number of recognized certificates that give them a leg up in the job market.”

Technically, all enrollees are employees of the U.S. Department of Labor and receive a $25 stipend every two weeks, plus classroom clothing, dormitory space and three meals a day, seven days a week. Instructors and staff, on the other hand, are employees of contractor Adams & Associates Inc.

The Center also offers advanced college training programs — either certificate or associate degree programs in computer aided design, robotics, registered nurse, hotel and restaurant management and cybersecurity. It has partnered with three educational institutions for all of the advanced college training programs: Manchester and Nashua Community Colleges and St. Joseph School of Nursing.

“Students must first complete a regular trade, but while they’re in our advanced training they can still live at the center, and we pay for everything related to the program: tuition, books and so forth,” Miller said. “Our program is 100 percent free to our students!

“Our goal for post-graduation for our students is called MAC-13 — Military, Advanced Training, College or $13 per hour. If a student wants to join the military, we help make that happen. If they want to enter advanced training with us or at a college on their own, we help make that happen as well. If they want to enter the work force, then our goal is to help them secure a job that pays at least $13 per hour.”

Students are recruited from across the entire state and there are now openings for 50 students.

“Our program is primarily residential, with about 90 percent of our students living on our modern seven-building campus,” Miller pointed out. “Currently, we have 250 students in our program with a capacity for 300. Our program does have certain criteria that individuals must meet in order to be accepted. The main one is income: Our program is for economically disadvantaged individuals. The threshold varies depending on a number of circumstances. The other main requirement is age: We only accept enrollees from age 16 to 24.

“We accept students with or without high school diplomas, and we have several options for them to earn high school equivalency credentials. The average length of time a student spends in our program is one year. Facilities include computer access, a gym with six basketball hoops, three workout rooms and a student lounge with six pool tables plus do-it-yourself laundry rooms.

“Our program is for people who want to change their lives by achieving their career and life goals in a supportive environment,” Miller concluded. “We give them marketable and highly sought skills so they can do that.”

Miller can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (603) 695-8818.

New Hampshire was the last state in the Union to secure its own Job Corps Center. Then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was among those who heavily promoted it, and the now-senator attended the Oct. 19, 2015, ceremony to officially open the handsome $32 million Nordic-style campus.

Berlin man collapses and dies while riding ATV

CAMBRIDGE — A Berlin man collapsed and died while driving his ATV on the Umbagog Lake Trail Tuesday afternoon.

Fish and Game said two snowmobilers stopped to help Michael R. Perreault, 61, who had gotten his ATV struck just off the trail about a mile south of the Lake Umbagog boat launch. Perreault was riding alone at the time.

After helping get the ATV out of the soft snow and back on the trail, the snowmobilers suspected Perreault might be suffering from a medical condition. One of the men drove to a nearby camp to call for help while the other snowmobiler stayed with Perreault. Shortly after the snowmobiler left, Perreault collapsed while seated on his ATV.

Arriving quickly with the second snowmobiler, an EMT from Errol Rescue immediately started CPR. Other emergency rescue personnel arrived via the Errol Rescue’s UTV and assisted. Fish and Game said despite exhaustive efforts, including almost 45 minutes of CPR and the use of an AED, Perreault did not survive.

Authorities are asking anyone who may have come in contact with Perreault while he was operating his red 2005 Honda Rancher between Berlin and Cambridge on Tuesday to contact Fish and Game Sgt. Mark Ober at (603) 271-3361 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..