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Jump Qualifiers Open Games Thursday

By Tom Kelly
February, 7 2018
Michael Glasder
Olympic Trials winner Michael Glasder soars during Team USA's first training at the Alpensia Nordic Centre. (Getty Images/Toronto Star-Steve Russell)

Team USA's ski jumpers will open the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang Thursday night with the qualifying round for the normal hill competition to be held Saturday at the Alpensia Nordic Centre. The four American ski jumpers got their first taste of the HS106m hill Wednesday night. Kevin Bickner (Wauconda, Ill.) led the way with two top-10 rounds in training including a 102.5m jump on his second ride of the evening.

The view of the towering jumps at the Alpensia Nordic Centre illuminated at night is becoming the iconic look of the PyeongChang Olympics as ski jumping training began on Wednesday. Team USA skipped the morning sessions but was out on the HS106m hill Wednesday evening. Bickner was joined by teammates Michael Glasder (Cary, Ill.), Casey Larson (Barrington, Ill.) and Will Rhoads (Park City, Utah) – all first-time Olympians.  

The women will get their first look at the jumps on Thursday with veteran Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, Utah) plus new Olympians Abby Ringquist (Park City, Utah) and Nita Englund (Florence, Wisc.). The men have a final training Thursday before the qualifying round where the top 40 finishers in a single jumping round will make the field for Saturday’s medal event. They will be joined by the top 10 in the world, who are pre-qualified. 

It was a long day for Team USA with processing in Seoul and a long trip to Alpensia. “We are pretty satisfied with the first training for Team USA,” said team director Clint Jones. “All four of our athletes made some improvements over the three jumps and are starting to get comfortable on the hill.”

"Training was a bit tricky today after some long travel days en route to Pyeongchang," said Rhoads. "Our team actually started the morning at team processing in Seoul, we then traveled to the Olympic Athlete Village in PyeongChang and arrived only 30 minutes before we were set to leave to the ski jumping complex!

"Despite a little fatigue, the hills were perfectly prepared and the wind stayed calm so the training rounds went by quite well.  We are set for another official training round tomorrow morning and the qualification round Thursday night. Really excited and ready for what has to offer!"

Glasder, who won the Olympic Trials five weeks ago, was also impressed. "Even though it is my first Olympic Games I felt calm, cool, and collected," he said. "Training the last few weeks has prepared me greatly and the technique is moving in the correct direction at the right time. I was a little bit tired today due to the hectic travel schedule. I feel confident going into the qualification on the small hill tomorrow night."

The event will be streamed live on and the NBC Sports mobile app beginning at 7:30 a.m. EST Thursday morning.