Park City, UT November 21, 2019 – The 2019-2020 season kicks off tomorrow for USA Nordic with the first Men’s Ski Jumping World Cup in Wisla, Poland.
Led by Head Coach Bine Norcic, the men’s ski jumping team for USA Nordic is young, a theme that runs across all USA Nordic teams. Kevin Bickner (Wauconda, Ill) highlights this young team heading into the season at just 23 years old. Over the last few years Bickner has racked up some pretty noteworthy accomplishments which include becoming the American distance record holder with his jump of 244.5 meters ski flying in Vikersund in 2017. After a rather disappointing season last year, he’s ready to get back on track and continue fulfilling the potential he showed finishing 18th in the 2018 Olympics. “This season I feel like I am better prepared to endure the five months of competing. I feel better rested and my jumping is currently on a high level,” says Bickner.
Decker Dean (Steamboat Springs, CO) will be making his World Cup debut on Friday at the young age of 19. Dean was given this World Cup start based on his strong jumps in Lillehammer, Norway over the past week. Dean showed his growth over the summer notching a 6th place in a FIS Cup and jumping onto the podium at National Championships. “This will be my first individual World Cup start. With that being said, I’ve never felt more confident in my jumping and preparation. So stoked!” says Dean.
The hill in Wisla, Poland is notorious for its windy conditions and steep icy counter slope in the outrun. “Watching the athletes try and come to a stop on those massive jump skis on Wisla’s counter slope is sometimes just as entertaining as the actual ski jumping,” says Marketing Manager Ben Berend. Wisla was the first ski jump Bickner ever jumped in Europe. “We have a quite a history,” he says. Dean also knows the jump well saying, “The hill in Wisla is wild, it’s super unique because of the steep counter slope and how much of a wind lottery it can be.”
As for the atmosphere, it will be crazy. The usually quiet town in southern Poland explodes one weekend per year for the Ski Jumping World Cup. “It’s a great atmosphere to kick off the season. It’s hard to walk down the street without being chased down for pictures and autographs,” says Bickner. Polish fans enthusiasm for ski jumping is renowned. “I’m really excited to jump in front of a ton of crazy Polish fans,” says Dean.
The approach going into the season for the men’s ski jumping team was slightly different than most years. This year, the team spent more time at home right before the season. A lack of travel seems to have allowed the athletes more quality preparation time. “Physically the team looks better prepared than previous years,” says Head Coach Bine Norcic. Norcic has noticed a shift in the team mentally as well. “I have seen the team become more professional and start to set higher goals for themselves.”
The men’s ski jumping season will start this weekend and run through the Sky Flying World Championships at the end of March. Between now and World Championships there will be 35 individual World Cup competitions for the men’s ski jumpers, making for one of the most vibrant and packed winter sports calendars. The good news is that you can follow along all season!
How to Watch
NBC Sports will be giving ski jumping fans access to the entire calendar season. Purchase the NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass and watch every ski jumping competition live or replay at your convenience. The Snow Pass will offer unparalleled access to the Ski Jumping World Cup. Tag @usanordic in photos of your NBC Stream to win great prizes all winter long.
In addition, NBC Sports will be replaying events on the Olympic Channel. Throughout the season we will post Olympic Channel coverage times. Follow the USA Nordic social channels and NBC Sports coverage for a winter full of entertainment and behind the scenes access as our athletes battle across the globe.