The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang have come to a close and we wanted to congratulate our USA Nordic athletes on a successful trip to Korea.
Men’s Ski Jumping started off the Olympics with some of the best results that the US has seen in decades, when all four members, Kevin Bickner, Michael Glasder, Casey Larson, and Will Rhoads qualified in the top 50 in the Normal Hill event. Kevin led the way on the HS109, finishing 18th and giving the US our best American result on the small hill since Alan Alborn was 11th in 2002. Mike finished just outside of the top 30, missing the cut for the second round by less than a point. Casey was 39th in his Olympic debut and Will finished 46th.
On the HS142, Kevin was the top American again, finishing 20th. It was the best American result on the large hill since Jim Holland finished 12th in 1992. Mike was the only other American who qualified for the large hill, finishing 46th. And in the team event, Kevin, Mike, Casey, and Will finished an American best, in 9th place. While not filled with hardware, all in all it was a very successful Olympic debut for all four of our American Ski Jumpers.
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For the second time ever, Women’s Ski Jumping was included in the Games and our team, made up of Sarah Hendrickson, Nita England, and Abby Ringquist also also had a strong showing. Sarah Hendrickson was the best American on the day, finishing 19th, two spots better than her performance in 2014. Abby Ringquist was 29th in what would be her first and last appearance in the Olympics, deciding to retire following the games. She went out on a high note, throwing down her best jump of the trip in her final jump. And Nita Englund was 31st in her Olympic debut, finishing just outside of the qualification. Hopefully in four years the women will be able to showcase their talent even more with a have a Large Hill and/or team event.
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Our Nordic Combined men provided plenty of entertainment during the second half of the Olympics. Bryan Fletcher led the team throughout the games in, what he has called, his last Olympics. The first Nordic Combined event was the HS109 10K individual competition. Fletcher was the top American, finishing 17th and improving on his 26th place finish in Sochi. Brother, Taylor Fletcher was the next across the line for the Americans in 35th. Ben Loomis was 41st in his Olympic debut while Jasper Good was 45th.
On the Large Hill, Bryan was once again the top American, finishing 17th after a gutsy race that nearly put him in the top 10 with the 10th fastest time. Ben Berend was the next American, in 39th after a strong day on the hill and a solid race. Ben Loomis came in just behind Berend in 40th, and Jasper Good improved on his previous result, finishing 43rd.
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The last event for any of our USA Nordic athletes was the Nordic Combined team event. With all of our ski jumping athletes and coaches cheering in the stands, the four man team of Fletcher, Loomis, Berend, and Fletcher all put in a strong effort finishing 10th on the day. The future looks bright with so many young Nordic Combined athletes now mentally prepared for the next big show in Beijing, 2022.
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Some teams measure Olympic success in medals, and while medals do mean success, they are not the only measure. Our team is young and making improvements every day. While we may be losing the guidance of a few of our older leaders this year, such as Fletcher and Ringquist, their efforts have helped us to develop a team that we know can be competitive at every level. The leadership offered by our older athletes has helped to foster an environment of success, hard work, and dedication that we expect to pay off in more ways than one moving forward. While we are happy to celebrate the individual victories of our athletes, it is more important to us to celebrate the team, and this year we fielded a team worth celebrating. Congratulations to all of our USA Nordic athletes who had the privilege of representing their team, their teammates, and their country at the 2018 Olympics. We’re proud of the accomplishments of each and every one of you, and we look forward to what your futures will all bring.
Last, but not least, we want to say thank you to all of our staff. The Olympics are, arguably, the biggest production in the world. It takes all hands on deck, at all hours, in order to make it possible. Thank you to Bine, Balki, Bostjan, Dr. Chen, Martin, Jan, Andrej, Mazi, Dave, Dr. Finoff, Igor, Alan, Valery, Clint, and Billy in Korea, and Sarah, Ellie, Jed, Blake, Jessica, Andy, Jeremy, Tomas, Tomas, and Alex back at home. This team wouldn’t be possible without the all of the hard work that goes into giving our athletes the best opportunities possible to go out and be their best.
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Go USA Nordic!