As amateur ski jumpers took to a southwest park to train on Wednesday night, an official with Ski Jumping Canada says there's reason for optimism for the currently displaced jumpers.  

In the fall of 2018, WinSport Canada announced plans to shutter its ski jumps, remove its jumping facilities, and close Ski Jumping Canada's offices after a municipal plebiscite halted any potential plans for a Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

"There was a lot of tears and a lot of sad kids those closing days," recalled Todd Stretch, president and chairman of the board of Ski Jumping Canada, of the move that left the sport without a permanent home in Calgary.

A group of amateur ski jumpers have been gathering at Turtle Hill in the southwest neighbourhood of Glendale on a regular basis to hone their skills on a portable mini ski jump that they built.

"In order to keep ski jumping alive at the club level, we needed to simulate what we had at WinSport with a hill that's 20 metres," explained Stretch. "This situation may not be perfect but it allows us to continue on, keep the program going and keep ski jumping alive while we work on other plans in order to maintain and take us forward."

Stretch says the makeshift jump was not tough to sell to the young jumpers. "You build a hill, put a jump in, and then the kids come running. It's great to see. You'll watch some of the smiles here tonight as the kids go up."

Logan Avey says Turtle Hill offers him an opportunity to improve his jumping form and he appreciates the fact he's training, and momentarily flying, in warm conditions.

"I think ski jumping in the summer is pretty nice and it's not like super crazy and cold."

Pyotr Oxendler has been jumping for roughly two years and would like to compete in the Olympics one day. He admits to missing the jumps of WinSport. "I kind of feel like it’s a bit worse since we have to jump here and not on actual jumps now."

Stretch admits the current jumping situation in Calgary is not ideal but says better days are ahead.

"We're working on a Calgary Nordic facility with cross-country biathlon, ski jumping and Nordic combine," beamed Stretch. "I was in a three-hour meeting today and we're moving forward with that. It has the endorsement of all the Nordic sports and we're very excited about it."

Stretch says he is eager to share additional details regarding the future Calgary Nordic centre once they are confirmed but says the project will be "fantastic for the Nordic sports, amateur sport and Calgarians."