If I were a kid, I would take up ski jumping.
When I was in the single digits age-wise, my family lived in Kentucky, where kids' activities were limited to ballet, t-ball and basketball. None of those interested me so I spent a lot of time reading or just running around outside.
But here kids get the chance to try out something you usually only get to see every four years on the Olympics. Maybe the younger me wouldn't have given it a try, but if I could somehow become a 9-year-old again with my current mindset, I would be all over it.
Working in Ishpeming, I've had the chance to interview the ski jumping kids a couple times, and each time I talk to them it kind of blows my mind that they do what they do.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to walk, and by "walk" I mean climb, to the top of the scaffolding that makes up the 90-meter hill at Suicide Bowl while the Ishpeming Ski Club was getting the track ready for the annual tournament.
I've covered the tournament for a few years now and I'm pretty familiar with the sight of the jump towering over everything, the jumpers barely visible until they fly down the landing hill and come to a stop at the end in a shower of snow from their skis.
I'd even been to the top of the landing hill where the jump ends and at the time, that seemed high up.
Not once you climb to the top.
From the top of that scaffolding you can see just about everything, including the parking lot where your car will look to be about the size of a peanut. On the ground it's easy to think in terms of cities and where they are in relation to each other, but from up there you can really tell that the U.P. is a big place with a whole lot of trees.
There are, of course, taller structures in the world. But if you go to the top of say the Eiffel Tower in Paris, sure it's windy and really high up, but there's a pretty sturdy fence between you and open air. At the top of the ski jump, there's you and the platform you're standing on with a long white track heading down.
And then imagine going down that track with a pair of skis strapped to your feet. I was imagining that on my way down - the stairs, not the track - and not just because the ski club members who were there were joking with me that I should have brought a pair with me.
But you don't start by going off the 90-meter jump. Most of the kids I've interviewed have been getting familiar with the smaller jumps, like the 13-meter hill. And they love doing it.
What I think is cool is that from what the Ishpeming club provides, these kids could potentially go on to jump in the Olympics and there aren't that many places in the country where they could grow up next door to a facility that would let them do that. More than that, ski jumping is a unique activity and it's part of the area's history. If you have never seen one of the ski jumping tournaments that happens at Suicide Bowl, I'd suggest going to at least one.
So if you're a ski jumper, I think what you do is pretty cool. And if you do something - doesn't have to be ski jumping - that contributes to the culture of the area, that's cool, too. Take advantage of what makes Marquette County unique.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.