Ever since he was four years old, Dale Severson has been jumping into the wind.
Dale, age 87, was inducted into the All Americans Ski Jumping Hall of Fame last month.
“It’s not every day you get an honor like that,” Dale said. “It was a big surprise, because you’re in competition with hundreds of athletes from all over the U.S.”
Dale and his wife Sharon have lived in North Oaks for 45 years. They have two daughters — Jodi and Amy. Jodi lives north of Chicago and Amy lives in North Carolina.
“It was a very big event and a great honor,” Sharon said. “Our girls said, ‘Dad, we got to come home and see this presentation.’”
Dale grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he caught the ski jumping bug at Mount Washington Fourth Ward School.
“The most interesting thing is he started when he was 4 and when he went to an elementary school that had a ski jump on the playground,” Sharon said. “You wouldn’t see that today. The janitor (Jimmy Ellingson) at the school coached these kids, and that’s how they became so good.”
Dale said Ellingson was the coach of the Flying Eagles Ski Club. “He would coach us during recess, and there were lights on the hill so us kids could come back and ski at night,” he said.
Sharon shared that when they were first dating, she went to a ski tournament Dale was competing in with one of Dale’s friends in St. Paul.
“He was ready to go up the scaffold, and I said to him, ‘Be careful,’ and he said, ‘Never tell me to be careful, just tell me to jump far,” Sharon said. “I was a little embarrassed that I had said that, but it seemed a little scary to me.”
Dale was a qualifier for the Nordic Ski Jumping Olympic team in 1956 but didn’t get to go because there were too who qualified, so he was an alternate.
Sharon said Dale got to ski jump in Norway after the 1994 Winter Olympics with masters of the sport. “The old guys,” she laughed.
“I borrowed Epsen Bredesen’s skis, who won the silver medal that year,” Dale said. He took home three medals — two bronze and one silver.
Seventeen people celebrated Dale’s Hall of Fame induction in Red Wing, the birthplace of ski jumping and home to the All Americans Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum.
Highlights of Dale’s ski jumping include:
Won all 11 Indianhead circuit ski meets in 1953.
Won a place in the top 20 for the Olympic Training Team in 1956.
Coached many junior and senior ski jumpers for a total of five ski clubs. Most famous was Larry Bergh from Eau Claire. Bergh was the central champion four times in class A.
Won 10 gold, silver and bronze in Master’s International ski meets.
At Sundsvall, Sweden, in 1997, Severson won a silver medal in Nordic combined on its 40- meter hill and 10K race.
Inducted into the Eau Claire Ski Club Hall of Fame in 1995.
Guided blind skiers cross-country at Park City, Utah, Soldiers Hollow (5K and 10K races) at the annual International Ski for Light event for 30 years.
Dale quit jumping when he was 79 years old.
“I loved it and I miss it,” he said. “I’m so honored to be inducted in the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame.”
Shoreview Press Editor Noelle Olson can be reached at email@example.com or 651-407-1229.