FOX RIVER GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois has been getting a taste of the Winter Olympics in Fox River Grove at the Norge Ski Club.
Ski jumpers of all ages took flight Saturday with thousands watching in awe.
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The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Norge Ski Club to limit spectators last year, but the party returned this weekend with 6,000 to 10,000 people expected to attend. They get quite the show with some former Olympians taking off from 150 feet in the air.
"Some people say you kinda blackout a little bit," said Olympic ski jumper Mike Glasder. "You're really thinking about one or two things that you're working on with your coach, and trying to perfect and tweak your technique just a little bit."
All eyes have also been on the Olympians of the future. The weekend of action started with the kids in the junior competition Saturday, some of them as young as just four years old.
"I love doing it because it's been kinda like a groundbreaking experience," said 12-year-old ski jumper Natalie Unverzagt. "It helped me discover things about myself that I hadn't discovered before I had done ski jumping."
"Really keep an eye on these younger kids," Glasder said. "Because those are the kids you're gonna see in the Olympics in another four years and it all starts right here in Chicago."
It's a leap of faith these parents were proud to see their kids take.
"It's exhilarating," said Joe Simic, the father of a 12-year-old jumper. "It's good to see them take risks and chances and push their boundaries of what they can and can't go."
The program has three Olympians this year, the same as in 2018, Smith said. Still, attendees don't need to be skiing experts.
"It's a great time for the spectators to watch the event," said Norge Ski Club President Scott Smith. "There's a lot of food and drink and it's a party atmosphere and people love to see these ski jumpers fly far."
Norge Ski Jump in Fox River Grove returns for 2022 at full capacity
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