Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Steamboat Springs Henry Christian Hall may have been born in Ishpeming, Mich., but his legacy lives in the hills that surround Steamboat Springs.
"When he was 19 years old, he traveled to Steamboat Springs and fell in love with the town," said Fay Hall, one of Henry's three daughters. "He always represented the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in competitions and always felt like Steamboat was a part of who he was."
On Oct. 14, Hall and fellow Steamboat skiing legend Jim Temple will be honored along with three other people when they are inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.
It's something that Hall's family has been hoping would happen for years.
Hall was a pioneer in the sport of ski jumping during the early 1900s.
Born in 1893, it didn't take Hall long to find success on the jump hill.
In 1913, he set the world amateur record in Duluth, Minn., with a jump of 164 feet. A year later, he won the national amateur championships.
In 1916, he joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and in 1917 he became the first person to ever jump more than 200 feet.
Hall's record jump of 203 feet helped him become the first American-born jumper to hold a world record.
Fay Hall said it was one of two jumps Hall made on a windy day.
She still recalls her father telling her about all the jumpers who were injured that day after trying to take flight on an unstable jump that had been constructed for the event.
Hall soared more than 200 feet on his only practice effort, but was unable to land the jump. He returned to the top of the hill in the competition for one more try. This time he landed the jump and took his place in the history books.
After setting the record, Hall put his ski jumping career on hold to serve his country during World War I.
Three years later, he returned from the war to find his record had fallen.
He reclaimed the title a few months after his return in British Columbia by jumping 229.45 feet in Revelstoke. The mark would stand for 10 years.
Hall was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967, and he made his final attempt at flight in 1972 on a jump he constructed in the front yard of his home in Farmington, Mich.
Hall, who was 78 at the time, took a nasty fall and broke his hip. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but Fay is happy to report that he recovered and was walking a few months later.
Hall returned to Steamboat Springs in 1982 for the national championships and proved once again that he has what it takes to be a legend.
The 90-year-old had hoped to jump, but when officials said no, he settled for the next best thing. He strapped on his skis and skied the outrun one last time. He died a few years later at the age of 93.