The Dummy Gelunde Jump is an annual contest at Ski Apache, where dummies on skis from far and wide are launched off a massive jump. Similar dummy jumps can be found at other ski resorts like Mount Sunapee and Mission Ridge. The specifications and judging criteria vary, but most will require only 2 skis be used and will reward creativity, height of jump and distance traveled or proximity to a bulls-eye.
The Ski Apache Gelunde Jump is great because there isn’t a weight restriction and the dummy need not necessarily be standing on the skis. This has led to some really great designs in past years. From an 8 foot tall Sasquatch to the obligatory president, there have been some very creative entries.
My parents found out about the competition in 2013 and a fter some deliberation (and probably a few beers) it was decided that the most iconic embodiment of potential energy being realized through an inanimate object would be the Looney Tune, Wile E. Coyote. I had a lot more time on my hands than they did, so they told me what they wanted, gave me some skis and set me to work on it.
The frame was built from PVC pipe and fittings.
I filled it out using Tape-er-mache. Basically I’m just crumpling dry newspaper and packing it on where I want more form, then compressing it with packing tape to lie in the places and shapes I want. We wanted the overall weight to be close to 100 lbs, but its important that your dummy has a low and forward center of gravity, so the character itself needed to be as light as possible.
Weights in the feet that were be disguised as buckles (we didn’t want ski boots hiding his characteristic oversize feet).
I kept building up until it started to look more like Wile E. The tail and ears were just added onto coat hanger wires.
Eventually it was time for the fur. I used a fairly stretchy brown fleece for the main color. The fleece is a lot easier to work with, being able to stretch to fit the form, and hot glue holds it onto the tape fairly well.
Fully fleshed out, we added the supports between the skis. There are a few much-needed finishing touches like the solo cup pole grips and, of course, an ACME rocket.
The rocket was easily the coolest part of the whole build. We weren’t sure what the rules were regarding actual rocket propulsion (even in winter, mountain villages have strict fire safety guidelines, for good reason ) So instead of using actual model rockets, we opted for an ingenious alternative.
After modifying an old fire extinguisher, loaded it with about a cup of baby powder and charged it with an air compressor with enough pressure to send a jet of white powder spewing in a 12 foot stream for roughly 20 seconds. It’s set off with a pull-pin that I’ll use right as I launch him.
With that fixed on his back, all that’s left is a paint job for the skis.
Strapped up with some of A.C.M.E’s finest propulsion units and looking determined, Wile E. was ready to make the jump.
On the main face of the mountain, the jump is a short walk from the ski lodge to spectate. A crowd of at least a hundred people were gathered at the bottom to cheer on their favorite entries. A snow mobile towed each entry up, but it was a rough ride and some last minute repairs were needed to fix the support bar.
I was glad not to go first. Watching other dummies take their shot gave me a feel for the lay of the ramp. Many of them fell over or veered off before even making it to the jump.
The moment had finally arrived so I slowly moved Wile E. into position, which was hard to do without him dragging me with him to an early start. I aimed him as best I could, pulled the pin on the rocket and off he went. Unfortunately, the white backdrop and gusts of wind made the rocket trail a lot less noticeable from below, but I’m still glad it worked.
in true Looney Tune fashion, things went off the rails pretty quick. He hit a bump and the repaired support beam fell off the right ski and dragged. He started to veer hard right. But wait! He went far right, corrected and DID A FULL 180 AND HEADING STRAIGHT FOR THE JUMP!
Nailed it! Even manages an okay landing! Incredible luck helped all the work pay off.
The judges didn’t award extra points for the stunt work, so we didn’t quite make the podium, but it was a blast and I know we would have made Chuck Jones proud.
So Wile E. Sat in the loft of the garage for 3 years, looking determined for another shot at glory. Fast forward to 2016 and my parents decide the time is right.
Wile E. was taken down and repaired. The character stayed intact but they decided to attach an extra pair of skis under the first pair, to keep the feet and the support barfrom dragging in the snow.
The big day arrives and Wile E. is once again staring down his destiny
Wile E. Looks on as his competitors take turns crashing, careening or soaring over the ramp, all the while noting how the terrain is affecting trajectory.
At long last, the moment has come. Again, aiming just left of center, he gets what he came for.
First Place! Not only were judging criteria better in favor of more creative entries, but he hit the ramp at top speed, shot straight up, stalled for a second, falling only after realizing he was in mid air. Mine and my parents’ hard work is rewarded with the top prize of $1,500 and the pride of being Dummy of the Year.
Most entries are smashed to bits, but weights and parts are salvaged for another build. Both years were a great time and I look forward to collaborating on future dummies to carry on this epic, if ridiculous, tradition.