Cary native becomes Norge Ski Club's first Olympian
Michael Glasder doesn't quite remember the first time he went ski jumping at Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, but the story goes something like this:
His parents wanted to keep the 5-year-old busy during the winter months, so they took a short drive from their Cary home to Norge, a club founded in 1905 by Norwegian immigrants living in Chicago.
Glasder's determination was evident almost immediately. When his parents told him it was time for a lunch break, he refused to stop.
"I'm going to stay out here until I get it right," he said.
Two decades later, Glasder credits that attitude with helping him become Norge's first Olympian. He qualified for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, by winning the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday in Park City, Utah.
"That's stuck with me my whole career," Glasder said of his youthful determination. "Head down, keep working and make it happen."
Glasder could have some familiar company on the Olympic team, with as many as three fellow suburban jumpers taking spots on the squad.
Norge's Kevin Bickner of Wauconda, who boasts the U.S. distance record of 244.5 meters, is "pretty much a lock" to qualify, club coach Scott Smith said. Casey Larson of Barrington and A.J. Brown of Fox River Grove also are in the running.
Jumpers earn qualification points by competing at international events. The final team will be announced Jan. 22.
Smith, who's been coaching at Norge for 30 years, traces the club's recent success to 2004, when it paid $1 for a 72-meter ski jump previously owned by the city of Ely, Minnesota.
The club had to have the apparatus transported more than 500 miles, but it's allowed jumpers to train at Olympic distances, Smith said.
"The club as a whole is so supportive of all of us," Glasder said during a phone interview Tuesday from his apartment in Slovenia, where he's competing on the World Cup circuit. "The club's main focus is to be there for the athletes. They've supported us with the training facilities. It's going to be really exciting because we'll for sure have a couple members qualify."
Smith, a member of the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and coach of the 1992 Olympic squad, said watching Glasder jump over the weekend was nerve-wracking because he had missed qualifying for the past two Olympics.
"It was an emotional day," Smith said. "It was great to be there and see it."
On Tuesday, Smith was back at Norge working in bone-chilling temperatures to prepare the ski jumps for the younger athletes who could be the future of U.S. ski jumping.