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Oimoen, Ski Jumper

5/8/2004:

One of the greatest ski jumpers in U.S. history lived in North Dakota. Today would be his 98th birthday.

As a boy in Norway, Casper Oimoen’s first skis were barrel staves. When he moved to Minot at age 17, he had already many won many trophies, but he would win almost 400 more, including 3 national championships. In the 1932 and ‘36 Olympics, he was team captain, but during tryouts, he injured his shoulder and ankle. The hill was icy, but if he didn’t jump, the team would be shut out, so he went for it. On his second jump, he broke his own personal record; he appeared to be a shoo-in for third place, but the judges rated him fifth instead.

Oimoen’s most dangerous feat took place in Salt Lake City in 1939. He and three other skiers jumped simultaneously, in tight formation, without mishap. Twice. Then, they agreed to never do it again. A week later, Oimoen broke his leg, which brought his big wins to an end.

Casper was inducted into the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame in 1963. He died in 1995.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm