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Local view: Chester Bowl ski jumps: Sad to see Nordic sports in disarray

I empathized with the passion of Rocci Contardo in arguing to keep the ski jumps at Chester Bowl (“Former ski jumper urges city to keep Chester Bowl ski jumps,” Aug 1). It is truly a shame to see our Nordic sport fall into disarray and be replaced strictly by alpine skiing.

I also grew up Nordic skiing at Chester Bowl — however, as a cross-country skier and not as a ski jumper. We did share in common with the jumpers that we shagged ourselves up the hills without the use of a lift. Although alpine skiing was the overwhelming preference for skiers in the ’60s, we always had a place to ski at Chester Bowl if we were willing to set the tracks ourselves.

A memorial is all that’ll be left of ski jumping at Chester Bowl. It seems after our poor performance in Nordic sports at the Sochi Olympics, a memorial is appropriate. We weren’t competitive in cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined or ski jumping. However, not all of us are in the acceptance phase. I coach a year-round biathlon group at Snowflake Nordic (cross-

country skiing and rifle marksmanship). We receive no public or private money but have the support and encouragement of Snowflake’s owner, George Hovland. We train five days a week year-round and have the mission of preparing young people from age 8 for eventual international competition.

A former German teacher, I also sadly watched how German was dismantled in favor of Spanish in public schools. Our training also includes German as a part of meeting that goal of competing internationally. We have a yearly exchange with a sport school in Altenberg near Dresden.

We can offer alternatives to young people without depending on public money, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. What I tell my members is: You got to be tough to be a biathlete.

John Gould of Duluth is coach of Duluth Biathlon (, a division or chapter of Minnesota Biathlon. A cross-country skier since the early 1960s and first involved in biathlon in 1993, he coached Team Birke, a Minnesota-isconsin Nordic skiing foundation created by former U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing and Nordic combined Coach Steven Gaskill.