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Today’s author, Casey Larson, turns 20 years old today! Happy birthday, Casey! Below are some links to a few highlights from his career (thus far):
Casey’s bio- click here
The story of Casey as the 100,000th competitor in Olympic history- click here
Link to video of Casey jumping 216 m Vickersund- click here
Norge Ski Club
Growing up I am pretty sure I played every sport out there. My parents would hear me express an interest and next thing I knew I would be on ice skates at the local hockey rink or in a wrestling singlet. Ski jumping was no different. I remember vividly we were renting a house on the Fox River in Barrington, Illinois; across the river you could see a scaffolding rising out of the sky. I believe I was five or six at the time and I thought you shot straight into the air off of it, not ride down the jump itself. I was not into the idea of flinging yourself straight into the air 150 feet off the ground. For about a year the conversation never progressed. I was a little shredder on the slopes of Wilmot and Cascade mountains but there was no way I’d be a “ski jumper”. Damned scary that would be. My memory is hazy but in between the hectic schedule t-ball provided and all my homework as a kindergartner I remember showing up to the Norge Ski Club for an open house. My Dad got a brutal case of poison ivy that day walking around the jumps and I rode the landing hill of the infamous old twenty meter. My first ride I did not sit down before the grass and face planted right on my most prized possession. I still hold a grudge coach Glasder forgot to tell me that crucial tip. I wish I was a genius child and could remember my entire progression through the sport but I don’t. Bits and pieces stick out in my head. Probably my favorite one was my first ever competition. It was on the 10 meter at St. Paul, and I took a crazy win with some HUGE jumps. I remember being surprised that winning was so easy, and I should probably keep doing it.
By the time I was eight I had jumped the big 70 meter hill at Norge and I thought I was hot stuff, this was my sport. It was still easy, and I was pretty good for a little kid. I went to Jr. Olympics in Alaska that same winter with my 190 cm Germina’s in tow and literally thought I was going to win. I got 23rd and remember thinking that these dudes were good and this sport is not that easy.
Ski jumping came naturally to me for a long time. I was small, and could fly. Being 90 pounds and having the balls to have a forward move can get you somewhere. Like everyone I grew, got heavier, and people started catching up. I wasn’t always going to be the little kid that went far and it took a long time for me to realize that being good at anything takes work. The bigger I got the better I was at sports like football and lacrosse. There was a long time where I truly believed I would end up playing lacrosse in college, I was even getting emails from college coaches and that was pretty exciting for me. I never really had to work out and in the off season I never picked up a lacrosse stick and I was better than most. It did not help that I went to my first international ski jumping competition when I was 15 in Switzerland and got smoked, pretty sure I was around 70th.
To be honest there was only one ski competition I wanted to go to for a long time and it was coming up the winter following the Switzerland competition. Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer seemed like it would be pretty fun, so I decided that it would help if I actually got in the gym and tried to not get last place, that was the only thought. “Not last”.
Since then ski jumping has been extremely good to me. I was able to achieve everything that little kid in St. Paul thought he could. I’ve gone to the Olympics, flown over 200 meters, jumped the famous Planica flying hill, and got a top 10 at Junior World Championships. All this has been so much fun, but this last summer has been about letting go of those achievements, and finding new ones. It is about time the U.S. sees another generation that is ready to do whatever it takes to reach the podium, we’ve been there before, we’ll be there again. The sky’s the limit in this sport, and for the first time in a very long time we have the structure in the United States to give me, and all of my teammates, the support to compete at the world’s highest level. No one in our community is out on the hill raking, grooming, setting tracks, skiing because we are going to be rich, we do it because it is what we love to do. I believe that shows 1000 times over. I could not be more thankful to every single person that got the hill’s ready every day, but also there’s probably some work to do right now so…