(Photo Credit – Tadeusz Mieczynski)
Kevin Bickner was the highlight of the weekend, finishing 26th at the final 4-Hills competition of the season and scoring his first World Cup points of the season in Bischofshofen, Austria. It was the lone World Cup event of the weekend, after lack of snow caused the cancellation of the Women’s Ski Jumping World Cup in Rasnov, Romania, as well as the Nordic Combined World Cup in Otepaa, Estonia.
Conditions were warm and calm for the night event on the HS140. Bickner’s first jump of 120.5 meters was enough to move him into the second round in the head-to-head format. Kevin was paired against Russian athlete Denis Kornilov, whose jump of 115 meters was not far enough to keep Bickner from advancing.
Bickner’s second jump was an improvement. Flying 126.5 meters, Bickner put himself in a great position. Despite the increased distance, the field was extremely competitive and Bickner ended up in 26th, less than 2 points from a top 20 finish.
“I feel good about that result,” added Bickner. “I probably could’ve done a little bit better, but it’s the first points of the year, so I can’t complain.”
“It was a good day for Kevin,” said Norcic. “We are confident that he’s found the right equipment and the right feeling going into the rest of the season.”
Norcic also credited Assistant Coach Uros “Balki” Vrhovec for the change in Kevin’s jumping, now that the World Cup tour has resumed.
“Balki has done a really good job getting Kevin’s jumping on the right path,” said Norcic. “They’ve spent a lot of extra time working together and today we got to see it pay off.”
Bickner was the only athlete to compete on Saturday, but Head Coach Bine Norcic was excited with what he saw from the whole team.
Mike Glasder (Cary, IL) was disqualified due to a suit measurement and Will Rhoads (Park City, UT) was unable to qualify, but Norcic is optimistic about the upcoming Ski Flying event at Kulm in Bad Mitterndorf, Austria.
“It was too bad for Mike,” said Norcic about the disqualification. “He could be dangerous on the hill right now. Will was just a little bit tired from the travel, but he’ll have his energy back in a day or two.”
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While the rest of the World Cups may have been cancelled, there was still plenty of action on the Continental Cup circuits.
The Nordic Combined team had another “triple” weekend at COC’s in Klingenthal, Germany. Jasper Good was the top American on Friday, finishing 14th in the 5k “sprint” event. He was followed by Ben Loomis in 19th, Stephen Schumann in 45th, and Ben Berend in 47th.
Saturday, Loomis was the top American, finishing 21st. Loomis was followed by Ben Berend in 36th. Schumann was disqualified due to a suit measurement, and Good did not start the race.
Sunday’s jumping competition was cancelled due to wind, and the athletes raced off of the results from the provisional round held on Friday. Ben Loomis was the top American again, finishing 14th. Jasper Good was back in the points on Sunday, finishing 27th, and Stephen Schumann finished the day in 37th. Ben Berend was one of 15 athletes who did not race on Sunday.
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The rest of the USA Nordic Men’s Ski Jumpers were busy this weekend with two COC events in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany. Casey Larson was the top American skier on Saturday, finishing 48th. Larson was followed by AJ Brown in 57th and Nick Mattoon in 65th.
Larson was the top American on Sunday as well, finishing 57th. Brown was just behind Larson in 58th, and Mattoon finished the day 67th.
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This coming weekend will be packed full of events, with all three World Cup tours back in action. The Men’s Ski Jumping team will be competing in the first Ski Flying event of the year in Bad Mitterndorf, Austria, on the HS235. Currently the team is at their base in Slovenia, resting and getting a little open training after a long few weeks of travel. The Women’s Ski Jumping team has traveled to Sapporo for the first of two weekends of competitions in Japan. And the Nordic Combined team will be in Val di Fiemme, Italy, for two individual competitions, as well as one team sprint event.
Go USA Nordic!