RUKA, Finland (Nov. 24, 2016) – Three American men will hope to springboard from a strong summer of competition when the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup 0pens Saturday in Ruka near Kuusamo. Qualifying gets underway under the lights Friday with a pair of competitions on the HS142 meter hill.
Jumping for the USA will be Will Rhoads (Park City, UT) and Norge Ski Club members Kevin Bickner (Wauconda, IL) and Mike Glasder (Cary, IL).
Rhoads set a strong pace during the summer and fall competition season, picking up both U.S. titles and finishing fifth in a Continental Cup in Klingenthal, Germany. He was looking forward to getting off summer plastic and onto snow for the season ahead.
“Today we arrived in Ruka after spending a few days training in Lillehammer, Norway,” said Rhoads on the eve of Thanksgiving. “It felt great to get back on snow for the first time this season! Everyone seems to be prepared and excited for the World Cup opener this weekend.”
The camp in Lillehammer was an important investment heading into the sport’s premier series. At its team base in Slovenia, conditions earlier in November had allowed for jumping from an ice track to plastic, Lillehammer put the team on snow with benchmarking against some of the best teams in the world.
“Our World Cup Team has spent the last few days Training in Lillehammer, getting their first on snow jumps before heading to Finland,” said Domestic Coach Clint Jones. “The Austrians and Norwegians were also there training, which was a good gauge to see how are guys are progressing. With that in mind, our athletes and staff are feeling confident going into the opening event in Ruka.”
Bickner had an especially strong summer, starting with a sixth at a Continental Cup in Slovenia in July. He then stepped it up on the Grand Prix tour with a eighth in Switzerland and seventh in Japan a month later.
Based on the solid results from Bickner and Rhoads this summer, the USA earned a third quota start in the World Cup, allowing an opportunity to compete.
“As a team we are very excited to start the season off in Kuusamo,” said an enthused and optimistic Glasder. “We have put in a lot of hard work this summer with our coaching staff and feel very well prepared to have a great season ahead of us. I think is safe to say that we will be turning some heads and surprising some people with results throughout the winter season.”
Qualifying for the weekend takes place Friday, with competitions both Saturday and Sunday. After Ruka, the tour heads to the Olympic jumps in Lillehammer the following weekend when the women’s tour opens alongside the men.
The USA will be coached on the tour by Bine Norčič assisted by Uroš Vrhovec.
NBC Sports will live stream qualifying Friday, as well as the Saturday competition.
FIS SKI JUMPING WORLD CUP
Friday, November 25
Qualifying (12:00 p.m. EST) – LIVE streaming beginning 11:00 a.m. EST
Saturday, November 26
World Cup (11:00 a.m. EST) – LIVE streaming beginning 10:00 a.m. EST
Sunday, November 27
World Cup (10:00 a.m. EST)
Live streaming at http://www.nbcsports.com
Story Credit: Tom Kelly