Nels Nelsen Ski Jump soars again with Nels’ Knickers makeover

Check out the Nels Nelsen ski jump sculpture which was revealed in May this year. Public access to the site is closed this summer while works above the site are underway, but it will be for Canada’s 150th birthday.

1167
Parks Canada artist Rob Buchanan demonstrates the interactive sculpture on Mount Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

First published in the June issue of the free Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

In February, the Nels Nelsen Ski Jump in Mount Revelstoke National Park was declared a “nationally significant” site by Catherine McKenna, the federal minister responsible for Parks Canada.

In anticipation of Canada’s 150th in 2017, a major overhaul of the site is underway.

The Nels Nelsen ski jump sculpture overlooks Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

In May, we toured the site with Parks Canada artist Rob Buchanan to check out the new Nels’ Knickers sculpture he made, and viewing area still under construction.

The sculpture is similar to the Breeches of Miss Conduct display at Rogers Pass, allowing you to step inside the pants and grab a souvenir photo.

This time, the Nels’ Knickers sculpture of a ski jumper’s pants hangs off a cantilevered viewing platform at the very top of the jump site, allowing you to stand in the ski boots where those before had charged down the historic ski jump.

Younger brother of Nels Nelsen, he was known for his perfect form. He was the world boy champion in the 1920s, and taught skiing in Lucerne, Quebec. Photo: Revelstoke Museum & Archives
Younger brother of Nels Nelsen, he was known for his perfect form. He was the world boy champion in the 1920s, and taught skiing in Lucerne, Quebec. Photo: Revelstoke Museum & Archives

The jump, as most know, was once a venue for international competition. The site above the judges’ tower was cleared of brush last year, allowing for a proper view from the top.

Leaning into the sculpture makes you realize just how gnarly the old jump is; you charge through a narrow rock gulley, over the jump and soar onto a landing you can’t see from the top.

There are several visual displays in the form of old newspapers explaining the jump’s history. Other plaques encourage you to share the dedicated hashtag — “#NelsKnickers” — on social media. At the Nels Nelsen parking lot, work continues on a new kids bike park with nature-themed features.

“Creature features” include a grizzly den, hanging bats, a scat avoidance trail, and bridges with animal carvings. A spiral hill feature allows for two-way traffic up and down. The design and artistic work was done with mountain bikers Lorraine Blancher, Mel Bernier and Parks employee Zuzanna Driediger.

The Nels Nelsen ski jump will be open after work is finished in Mount Revelstoke National Park. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer
The Nels Nelsen ski jump will be open after work is finished in Mount Revelstoke National Park. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Unfortunately, the Nels’ Knickers site isn’t scheduled to open until 2017. Parks Canada is finishing a trail to the top, and a new parking lot on Meadows to the Sky Parkway. The risk of rocks rolling down the hill during construction means the whole site needs to be closed.

The bike park is also scheduled to open in 2017, although Parks will have some events to allow kids to ride the completed areas sooner.