It’s May 1961 and there’s a huge ski jump being built inside Wembley Stadium, on the football pitch.
This was the International Ski Jumping Display, which ran for just two days on the 31st May and 1st June 1961, was itself a revival of similar exhibition events on Hampstead Heath in 1950/51. Over the two days, some forty ski jumpers from across Europe performed for the audiences in the stadium, raising money for the Ski Club of Great Britain to support young skiers.
A ski slope in London isn’t a normal thing, so to prepare for the event a huge aluminium scaffold was erected, in just three days, rising up to 150 feet in the air. A lift was added at the top end to take both the jumpers and the fresh snow to the top.
Initially, they planned to ship snow in from Scotland, but that was changed to using a “slinger” that could turn huge blocks of ice into 10 tons of snow an hour – and they needed 50 tons for each session of jumps. The ski jump itself was then lined with straw to hold the snow in place, and especially soft landing mats were added at the end of the jump.
It wasn’t totally without problems though. The snow carrying lift broke down, and staff had to lug heavy snow to the top of the ski jump up the stairs. The staff including, according to the Daily Mirror, Sir Charles Taylor MP, the organiser of the event who stepped in to help. The ski jumps were delayed by half an hour while the MP and staff replenished the snow.
Lots of snow was needed as this was May, and while not the hottest May, it was certainly fairly warm.
It wasn’t a huge event though, garnering very little publicity at the time considering the rather odd idea of putting a ski jump in Wembley Stadium in May, but there is a Pathe News video.
But, for a few days, there was an actual ski slope inside Wembley Stadium.