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updated: 1/16/2017 11:49 AM

Skiers ready to fly in Fox River Grove tournament

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  • The packed snow on the 70-meter ski jump hill reflects the blue winter sky as Blake Hughs sails down at the annual Norge Ski Club winter jump competition in Fox River Grove. Dozens of former and potential Olympic ski jumpers compete at the event, which kicks off this weekend for the 112th year.

      The packed snow on the 70-meter ski jump hill reflects the blue winter sky as Blake Hughs sails down at the annual Norge Ski Club winter jump competition in Fox River Grove. Dozens of former and potential Olympic ski jumpers compete at the event, which kicks off this weekend for the 112th year.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer

  • As competitors climb the steps to the top of the ski jump, a volunteer spreads liquid nitrogen on the track during the 111th Norge International Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove last year.

      As competitors climb the steps to the top of the ski jump, a volunteer spreads liquid nitrogen on the track during the 111th Norge International Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove last year.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Beckett Ledger, from New York, flies a little sideways at the 111th annual Norge International Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Beckett Ledger, from New York, flies a little sideways at the 111th annual Norge International Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

Professional ski jumpers from around the world will take to the slopes this weekend for the 112th Norge Ski Jump International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove.

The event, which is the first leg of the grueling U.S. Cup Five Hills Tournament, begins at noon Saturday and Sunday at Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road, north of routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove. Gates open at 11 a.m. The club has five hills -- 5, 10, 25, 40 and 70 meters high.

"We'll probably have between 40 and 50 jumpers," said Charlie Sedivec, 61, of Cary, who has been announcing the competition for 47 years since he was a high school freshman.

Following this weekend's tournament, contestants will head to Westby, Wisconsin; Minneapolis; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and finally Ishpeming, Michigan, to conquer the remaining four hills.

This year's Norge tournament will be among skiers from four countries -- Finland, Norway, Slovenia, and the United States.

"The guys that are coming from Slovenia are the top skiers," Sedivec said. "We are really looking for a close competition. We've always had one top skier. This year, we've got two or three that are right up there."

Among the local hopefuls is Michael Glasder of Cary, who didn't make the U.S. Olympic team in 2014, but is trying out for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. "He is by far the top jumper in the central division," Sedivec said.

Other top local skiers competing are Kevin Bickner of Wauconda and A.J. Brown of Fox River Grove, one of the club's best jumpers, he added.

Another local favorite is Casey Larson, 18, of Barrington, who in 2016 placed sixth in the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, 38th in the Junior World Championships in Rasnov, Romania, and third in the US National Championships in Park City, Utah.

The Barrington High School senior has his sights on the Olympics in 2018 and 2022.

About 30 junior participants between the ages of 6 and 17 years old will compete on the smaller hills starting at noon Saturday for a chance to win trophies and medals. Professional ski jumpers will compete starting at noon Sunday on the 70-meter hill.

Winners will receive cash prizes -- the tournament champion will take home several hundred dollars.

Volunteers have been working 24 hours a day making snow and getting the slopes ready for the tournament, Sedivec said.

"We've had a tremendous challenge right now trying to make snow," he said. "It will be an exciting tournament."

About 1,000 spectators typically attend the junior tournament, and roughly 5,000 spectators are expected for the professional competition.

Admission buttons can be purchased in advance for $10 from local merchants, $11 online or $15 at the gate. There will be concession stands on the grounds, including refreshments and alcoholic beverages for anyone 21 years and older. For more information, call the Norge Ski Club at (847) 639-9718 or visit norgeskiclub.com.

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