Ski jumping tournament honors local legend

ISHPEMING, Mich. - At Suicide Hill, skiers from all over the world take their turn down the ramp, off the table, and into the air.

It's a big event in what would at first appear to be an unlikely place.

But with a tournament honoring Rudy Maki, Ishpeming, Michigan, makes perfect sense.

"This is the birthplace of organized skiing in America," US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame executive director Justin Koski said.

Ispheming is the hometown of Maki, who helped make ski jumping synonymous with the area.

"There's a lot of ski jumpers that have been born and raised (here)," Rudy's daughter, Melanie Maki Olson, said. "There used to be a lot of little ski hills all over the place. That's where my father learned to jump."

Melanie said her father had a lifelong live for ski jumping.

"He started skiing at a very young age, and literally by the time he was 18 years old was jumping very well for the United States," she said.

A member of the 1956 and 1960 US Olympic teams, Rudy Maki is now remembered as a ski jumping pioneer. His contributions to the sport are remembered at the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, appropriately in Ishpeming.

"It's a pinnacle to our community," Koski said. "We're tasked with finding the athletes and pioneers who really have developed and contributed to the evolution."

People like Rudy, who make up his daughter's favorite displays.

"It belongs here because this is the heart of ski jumping," Melanie said. "This is where it began."
It's also where it continues today, with a ski jumping tournament honoring a man at the only place where it can be.

"It's part of the heritage of who the people in this community are," Melanie said.

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