Stampede Race Report, 1975
Many thanks to Rob Corkran, our own historian, for this fun report from the 1975 Stampede! You may recognize some of these names, all these years later.
Was that the year that the sheriff of Kittitas County started the Stampede with a shotgun blast? Memory does not serve me well there. But another distinguished personage, Norway’s Ambassador to the United States, was certainly there. The occasion was the Norwegian-American Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the first Norwegian emigration to the United States. Norway was presenting awards in each state with prominent Norwegian American communities to individuals who had made distinguished contributions in that state. Selected in Washington were Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Kongsberger Ski Club founder, Olav Ulland. Olav was not only a force in making ski jumping a popular spectator sport in the 1940’s and 50’s. He was the co-owner of Osborne and Ulland, a seven-branch winter and outdoor recreation store. In that capacity Olav had also been one of the founders of the Ski Industries of America. To lend a festive air to the race, the Ballard High School band was in colorful uniforms and sprawled across the 15-meter jump outrun below the cabin, while playing the respective anthems and other melodies. While the ambassador did not follow his king’s example by jumping or racing, he did later tour the course with Paul Kaald.
For the first decade or so of its running, the Stampede was a popular “tour race,” where the larger number of participants were apt to be people in their first race or else their only race of the year. The course was not run on the regular trails but was unique to the event. It wandered across Swamp Lake and on to some of the side hill on the lower slopes of Amabalis Mountain. The original Kongsberger old-timers, John Berg, Gunnar Hagen, Fritz Pedersen, et al had given the names of prominent Norwegian landmarks, such as “Hallingsskarvet,” to various features of the course. The winner in 1975 was John “Spider” Burbank, followed by Eber Teter, Heikki Niskanen, and Asbjorn “Ozzie” Nordheim. Heikki, of the Oregon Nordic Club, should have won in the following year, but there were two interlopers! Seeking to capitalize on the excitement of Bill Koch’s silver in the 1976 Olympics, members of the team fanned out across the country. The KSC got Don Nielsen and Randy Kerr, who finished shoulder to shoulder, edging out Heikki in the 1976 Stampede.