Skip to main content

So long, old friend: Duluth tears down Chester Park ski jumps


Its predecessor was toppled by the wind three times in a decade. But Big Chester Bowl Ski Jump stood tall on the edge of Duluth for 90 years. Until Tuesday.

MPR News reports an excavator arrived to knock down the old ski jump that was used by generations of Olympians but fell into disrepair in its later years and hadn't hosted a competition in a decade.

Plans call for a new ski jump in Chester Park, possibly even this winter.The decision to knock down the dilapidated structure – along with its younger sibling, Little Chester – was made more than two weeks ago.

The executive director of the Chester Bowl Improvement Club agreed with the city's decision. Thom Storm told WDIO: "From a safety point of view, I think it's really the only option. The boards are rotten, the steel and some of the rivets have popped. It's a dangerous thing."

Nonetheless, the demise of Big Chester is a loss to those who made it part of their lives.

George Hovland, who used the jump as a springboard to the 1952 Olympics in the Nordic combined event, tells MPR "It's like losing an old friend."

The Zenith City Archive contains a passage from the book Lost Duluth on Chester Park's ski jumps. It says the Duluth Ski Club's first structure at the site launched legendary jumper Ole Feiring to a U.S. record of 112 feet in 1908, the year after it was built.

But after the aforementioned blowdowns, the club took another run at it. When Big Chester went up in 1924 the 115 foot slide was the biggest in the world. The Chester Bowl Improvement Club has a page of historic photos of Big Chester, including one of the crowd at the 1926 meet that dedicated the steel jump.

Duluth's community relations director tells WDIO a new ski run could be ready as soon as this winter, with a memorial to Big Chester likely to be ready early in 2016.

Next Up

Eric Kendricks

Vikings downgrade Eric Kendricks to out against Lions

The Vikings have also activated Michael Pierce from injured reserve.

u.s. attorney

Minnesotan sentenced after assaulting man with baseball bat

Marshall Wayne Boshey was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Target store

Target's gift card discount is back, but for this weekend only

The fine print: for Target Circle members only (but membership is free).

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Minneapolis teen arrested in St. Cloud after fleeing police in stolen vehicle

The vehicle was stolen in a car-jacking in Minneapolis Thursday.

snow, blowing snow

Winter storm warnings issued with heavy snow set to slam MN

Parts of northern Minnesota could see more than a foot of snow, but there won't be much in the Twin Cities.

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.


High carbon monoxide levels shuts down Duluth ice arena

Fire officials in Duluth are investigating to find out what led to "dangerously high" carbon monoxide levels at Duluth ice arena Wednesday night. About 30 people were evacuated from Fryberger Arena and eight people had elevated levels of carbon monoxide. One person was hospitalized.