Friday, May 23

A Guide to Watching Michel Fournier's Big Leap/Jump

Michel Fournier's team stays at the Gold Eagle Lodge while in North Battleford. The team will eat all its meals (except breakfasts which are self-served at the lodge) at the Gold Eagle Eagle Casino restaurant. These are two great spots to meet Michel and fellow team members over the next few days.

You have been hearing a lot lately about Michel Fournier's Big Jump, Great Leap, Super Jump, otherwise know in French as Le Grand Saut. I have had the privilege of being involved with the project since 2002, when I met Michel and his original team at Saskatoon's Calories restaurant and became a partner on the spot.

I have acted a the Canadian Manager of the project for a number of years until recently, because I believe Michel can do this. I have been instrumental in looking after some of the key logistical challenges faced by Le Grand Saut at Michel's request and that of other project insiders. Information about the project is closely guarded, as many have already commented on Michel Fournier's blog, although Michel promises to be more open about developments over the next few days.

A press conference was held earlier today in North Battleford, which has already yielded some interesting articles in The New York Times, The Edmonton Journal, The Daily Telegraph, and Le Figaro.

I endeavour to present to you in the next little while through this publication a few tips on how to follow the evolution of Michel Fournier's 2008 attempt, as in unfolds in the next few days. This will be an insider's perspective, with a view to recognizing the value of the project as a way to feature Saskatchewan on the world stage, as a place that is somewhat richer than the deserted Canadian plains that it is often being portrayed as being in the international press covering the event at the moment.

Mayor of North Battleford Julian Sadlowski is pictured here just outside the airport compound where the Super Jump will take place. Through the window (over his right arm), you can see the truck which came all the way from the US containing the helium that will be used to inflated the giant balloon. To the right of the truck is the new hangar which houses the balloon, gondola and mission control centre.
I ran into Mayor Sadlowski shortly before the press conference this morning. We had a good chat about the project and our respective University of Saskatchewan years (where coincidently we both majored in anthropology and took classes from the legendary Zenon Pohorecky). He makes no bones about supporting Michel's Big Jump because of the visibility it will bring North Battleford. This is an hospitable town with welcoming people who all want Michel to succeed. Many residents will be volunteers on the project. The city is lending Michel all kinds of resources. This is already a win/win situation for all the parties involved.