“In November of 2012, Michigan’s Governor Snyder proposed a 924 mile trail that starts at Belle Isle in downtown Detroit and traverses the entire state, across the Upper Peninsula to the Wisconsin border. I intend to be the first to thru-hike this trail. My name is Chris Hillier but other hikers call me Wolverine.”
So begins Chris Hillier’s blog. The staff at SK Headquarters – and a whole lot of other folks in the Ironwood area – had the honor of meeting this fine fellow at the conclusion of his ambitious hike this week.
After 11 weeks traversing the fine state of Michigan, sleeping in tents and surviving what might be the buggiest summer on record in the Upper Peninsula, Chris arrived in Ironwood yesterday afternoon. His arrival happened to coincide with Festival Ironwood, which gave our community all the more reason to celebrate with him. Rumor has it that large amounts of food were consumed…
Today, he came to see Kromer caps being made and add his name to our legendary wall.
As it turns out, Chris had his own Stormy Kromer story to share with us. He recalled being given a hunter green cap by his big brother – a sign in his family that he was now considered a man. A real honor. He treasured his cap for years, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances, he lost his cap during a hike somewhere in Pennsylvania.
We were happy to replace it for him. Cheers, Chris! You’re a legend in our book.
When other kids had to go to Disney World, a young Amanda Dinkel got to go to the U.P.
She grew up in Gladwin, Michigan, smack in the middle of the lower peninsula, with two older brothers and parents who loved the outdoors. Her father, Larry, who spent his days as an engineer, spent his life as a hunter and fisherman, and he often brought his kids out onto Superior or Huron for hours on end.
“We loved the outdoors, too, but he’d drag us on that boat, and we thought it was torture,” said Amanda, a middle-school reading teacher in Caro, Michigan, just an hour or so from her hometown. “We’d tell him ‘No, don’t take us. We’re gonna die!’”
Long days on a boat can be tough for any kid, but after her college graduation, Amanda set a goal for herself: to learn something her dad really loves and to have him teach her.
“I’m a girly-girl, but I wanted to connect with my dad. Fishing and hunting was a way to do that.”
It was on one of those trips—a venture to Larry’s favorite bear-hunting hideaway near the Keweenaw—when Amanda and her dad really found something to bond them.
“We stopped in Brevort for some smoked fish, and they had a whole selection of Kromer caps,” added Amanda. “I squealed! I’d been following Stormy Kromer on Facebook for a couple years, but this was the first I’d seen them. I was so excited. I got myself a Petal Pusher, hopped back in the car, and my dad said ‘Well, what did you get?’
“Naturally, being from Michigan, being an outdoorsman, he knew everything about Stormy Kromer—the caps, the gear, the history. There isn’t always a lot to talk about on that eight-hour stretch of road, but we now had Stormy Kromer in common. He just kept saying they were so cool.”
It wasn’t too long after that when Amanda ordered her father an Original in charcoal wool.
“My father is pretty simple in his wants and needs, so he isn’t always easy to shop for. But now there’s no question what to get him,” added Amanda. “I want to thank the people at Stormy Kromer for giving me an opportunity to bond with my dad. Kromer is our connection, and it’s authentic, through and through.”
Authentic. Just like Amanda and her dad.
Do you have a great Kromer Dad story to share??
Last winter, we agreed to outfit the Finlandia University Curling Club (in beautiful Hancock, Michigan) in Stormy Kromer caps. Their coach recently emailed us these great photos and this report from the 2013 College Curling Championships in Duluth, MN, March 8-10:
- Our team was ranked 7th in the nation after the event.
- Our national team upset the #1 ranked team in the country during the initial round-robin.
- Our other 2 teams placed 2nd in the “C” pool and 1st in the “D” pool of the event.
- Our Stormy Kromers were asked about constantly during our appearance, and the students proudly stated where they were from and what kind of hat it was.
- We were one of the best uniformed teams at the nationals…partly thanks to the Kromers!
- The event coordinators, other teams and coaches, and observers stated to me and the team, that: “Finlandia Curling Club showed the epitome of what respect, sportsmanship, fellowship and team is all about.”
- Going in, everyone was asking where and who Finlandia University was…no one really knew.
- Going out, our team gained respect for our club, the individuals and the University and look forward to the 2014 College Curling Championship!
Our hats are off to these great young men and women for representing their team, school, sport and the Upper Peninsula so well. You’re all legends in our book!
By Pete Graves,
Published on 06/07/13
PARK CITY, UT–June 7, 2013-—It’s been twenty years since the last ski flying tournament at Upper Michigan’s famed Copper Peak took place—for many a season since there have been no cheering crowds, no daring flyers, no network television—but that’s about to change for this upcoming winter in a joint announcement made today by USA Ski Jumping (USASJ) and Copper Peak Ski Flying’s Bryan Sanders.
In a simultaneous announcement, Copper Peak’s Bryan Sanders and USASJ’s Athletic Director Alan Johnson said that dates have been set for an exhibition ski flying event at the mammoth ski flying hill in Ironwood, Michigan, with competitions to be held from February 28-March 2, 2014.
USASJ’s Alan Johnson noted that resurrecting the largest ski jump in North America was cause for my optimism and excitement saying…”to bring the thrill of ski flying to athletes and spectators back to the States will play a vital role in show casing the efforts that both USASJ and Copper Peak aspire to in creating greater visibility for the sport. This will also allow us to look at more creative, non-traditional ways to format and showcase “big hill” jumping.” Johnson also praised Copper Peak officials for their brilliant efforts saying…”the changes and development of the sport since Copper Peak closed are significant. The sport is much safer and controlled than 20 years ago, enabling skiers to jump much further and control their flight. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the old hill record will fall this winter. The question should be how many times, this is just a win/win concept for all involved.”
Copper Peak’s Bryan Sanders, who was a US Olympian in ski jumping at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France said that Copper Peak’s Board of Directors are thrilled about rolling out the welcome mat for this series of events. “It’s been a long time coming, we’ve had massive debt to retire since the last event in 1994, and the venue has seen huge improvements that are bringing this historic ski jump back to FIS standards. We’ve now got a positive revenue stream and have improved the chairlifts, the elevator, the drainage on the hill, and have recountoured the landing hill with over 2,000 tons of dirt. This summer we are installing our new snowmaking facilities and the take off has been lowered. It’s now a 175 meter hill size (HS) and I think it will be a very safe and really exciting hill, that’s coming back to life.”
In a collaborative partnership between USASJ and Copper Peak officials expect to host about a dozen ski jumpers in an exhibition event, which is expected to largely consist of athletes from the United States and Canada. Invitations will also be extended to foreign nations as well.
Copper Peak has become a year-round tourist mecca offering a host of activities including the newly designed mountain bike trail system and the “Copper Peak Adventure Ride” that includes a trip to the top of one of the world’s most majestic views—high atop the stunning ski jumping tower.
At long last, it looks like this majestic structure will see ski flying return this winter, and the Nordic world is awaiting a triumphant return engagement.
IRONWOOD, MI (May 21, 2013) – Stormy Kromer is pleased to announce that they have been named the Official Lifestyle Apparel Sponsor of USA Ski Jumping and the Official Fashion Wear Supplier of Women’s Ski Jumping USA.
Stormy Kromer is a division of Jacquart Fabric Products, located in Ironwood, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, the heart of ski jumping country and home of Copper Peak, the country’s first ski flying jump.
Like the fate-filled cup of coffee and conversation that lead Stormy Kromer CEO, Bob Jacquart, to take the leap of faith and purchase (and ultimately save) the Stormy Kromer Cap Co., Jacquart took a call from friend and business colleague, Greg Windsperger, and their conversation lead to Stormy Kromer’s new sponsorship. Over the past few decades Jacquart Fabric Products and the company Windsperger worked for, Federal Foam/Airtex Inc, had come to do business, which also brought Windsperger back to his old stomping grounds as he has been actively involved in the sport of ski jumping. Greg jumped at Copper Peak from 1971-1976, he also competed in the 1974 World Championships, the 1976 Winter Olympics, and went on to coach the U.S. Men’s Ski Jumping Team in the ’84 and ’88 Olympic Games. So, when there was talk amongst USA Ski Jumping delegates about investigating the opportunity of a possible future meet at Copper Peak, Greg immediately made a call to Bob to ensure a stop at Stormy Kromer was part of the Ironwood itinerary.
Upon meeting the USA Ski Jumping representatives, Bob knew immediately there was an intrinsic connection and that the stories of the Stormy Kromer caps so many have come to wear and love, particularly in winter, and the area’s ski jumping heritage belonged together. And this was before he really knew the story of the U.S. women ski jumpers, who for the first time in history will compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Which is hard to believe, because many have seen women competing in ski jumping for decades, especially in Upper Michigan, however even with a decree by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1991, committing that all future Olympic sports must be open to both genders, the ruling excluded the 16 original sports of the Olympic Winter Games, of which, ski jumping was one. For more than a decade female ski jumpers have been fighting for the right to compete at the Olympics.
This tenacity, coupled with the sheer gumption that any person demonstrates when deciding to try the sport of ski jumping, made the Stormy Kromer sponsorship a perfect fit, much like the company’s iconic cap.
“Stormy Kromer is very excited to support the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Ski Jumping Teams,” said Bob Jacquart, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products, makers of Stormy Kromer. “We are a proud American-made company set in a location with a rich ski jumping history and have been making a product that has already unofficially been a part of the sport for decades.”
USA Ski Jumping’s Rex Bell was delighted to welcome Stormy Kromer to the USASJ Family. “Like all our sponsors, Stormy Kromer will play a vital role in the continued development of ski jumping in the United States. Their Stormy Kromer cap shares an historic status, used by hard-working outdoor fans for more than 100 years, which is a perfect fit for the sport of ski jumping.”
As the Official Lifestyle Sponsor, Stormy Kromer will supply members of the Men’s USA National Jumping squad with a variety of products, including their Original Stormy Kromer cap, the Night-Timer Duffle Bag and the Town Coat.
“We too are thrilled to align with Stormy Kromer and its unique and rich history in the outdoor world,” said Robbie Beck, Executive Director of Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “Our athletes are proud to wear these beautiful products and represent Stormy Kromer and the United States as they make their long-anticipated and celebratory debut in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”
The company will be providing the members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team with items from the Ida Kromer line including the Petal Pusher cap, the Ida Cap with Hardware, and Ida’s Walking Coat. In addition to the gear being provided to the Women’s Team, $1 from every purchase of each of the Ida Kromer items listed above will go to Women’s Ski Jumping USA, allowing anyone who wants the opportunity to be a part of their historic Olympic debut, an opportunity to support some strong women while sporting some great gear.
“Women have been ski jumping for decades, something we have seen firsthand in our own back yard,” said Gina Thorsen, Vice President of Marketing for Stormy Kromer. “To see them break new ground and prepare to compete in the 2014 Olympics is thrilling. We feel a close connection to the Team’s spirit and tenacity, similar to the spirit of Ida Kromer that has helped take our company to new heights, after all, if it wasn’t for Ida, Stormy wouldn’t have gotten his cap.”
Even with the rich history and relationship between ski jumping and Stormy Kromer, the company is in need of help hunting down historic photos of ski jumpers wearing Stormy Kromer caps. Fans willing to share any old photos will be given a free Stormy Kromer cap in exchange for their effort. The free cap is dependent upon verification that the cap in the image is an official Stormy Kromer and there is a limit of one free cap per household. To send a photo, please mail to Stormy Kromer, Attn: Ski Jump Photos, 1238 Wall Street, Ironwood, MI 49938 (please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope if image is to be returned) or email email@example.com for more information.
The legend of Stormy Kromer began with a unique cap created in 1903 and was originally stitched by Ida Kromer, Stormy’s wife. In 2001, Jacquart Fabric Products proudly became the Caretaker of the Legend, not only continuing to produce the iconic cap, but expanding the brand and product line to feature a wide variety of men’s and women’s clothing, outerwear and accessories to complement the popular caps. Today, the company continues to strive to provide classic yet contemporary products sewn with passion and practicality and still proudly made in the USA for more than a century.
Hats off to Phil Beatty. No, wait—hats on. Definitely on.
A short story of how a Stormy Kromer saved a life.
Well, this is a first. Even for us. We’ve had people get married in their Kromer caps. We’ve had people get buried in their Kromer caps. But we’ve never had a cap save someone’s life.
Until Phil Beatty went for a drive in Findlay, Ohio, on January 24th.
Phil is a Federal meat inspector, so he covers a lot of ground in and around Hancock County. And on this snowy morning, he was on his route when a snowplow snagged a small but heavy road reflector and flung it through the windshield of his van.
It was just one those things: unfortunately timed and uncannily accurate. Phil was struck from chin to forehead by the 10-pound projectile. It split his skull, caved his sinus cavity, and poked right through into his frontal lobe above the eyebrow. It also sent him into a two-week coma.
It didn’t, however, do all the damage it could have done.
According to Phil’s friend, Dave Rupple, “If that puncture had gone any deeper, it would’ve killed him. The bill on his Kromer saved him, I’m sure of it.”
After a drugged and difficult month in the hospital, then an intensive, six-hour-per-day therapy schedule at Ohio State University, Phil is now doing well in outpatient therapy. He’s walking, talking and thinking about retiring.
That sounds like a pretty good plan to us, Phil, and we humbly tip our caps in your honor. We’re proud you wear a Kromer, and we’re happy to hear you’re doing well.
According to my calendar, it’s the first day of spring.
According to this photo, it is not.
This photo was taken just minutes ago looking out one of the windows in our breakroom. That’s snow you see, built up and blocking most of the window. To be fair, some of it is from drifts and some may be from the last time we shoveled the roof, but nevertheless, there is that much snow piled up on the side of our building. On March 20.
Here’s a few more photos I snapped this afternoon:
- Positive: People still need to buy warm winter clothing this late in the season, which is great for sales!
- Negative: At this point, we’re all kind of sick of wearing our warm winter clothing. Except our Kromers, of course (we’re never sick of them), but we would be okay with switching to a lighter version, such as the Waxed Cotton or Field Cap. We’re definitely ready to put the Ranchers away for a few months.
- Positive: We can still participate in fun, cold-weather activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
- Negative: We still have to participate in not-so-fun cold-weather activities such as shoveling and plowing.
- Positive: When the sun shines and sparkles on the white snow, it’s like living in a snow globe. It’s beautiful.
- Negative: When the sun does make it’s way out from behind the near-constant cloud cover, it’s shining on the March variety of snow – the dirty, muddy variety.
All kidding aside, we do love winter. We wouldn’t be who we are without it. And so, with the official first day of spring, at least theoretically we bid a fond farewell to our favorite season.