Norge kicks off 113th tourney under Olympic limelight

 
 
Updated 1/26/2018 6:26 AM
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  • Hunter Gibson, 15, of Fox River Grove, a member of the Norge Ski Club, launches himself from the big hill during the club's 112th International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove. Ski jumpers take to the slopes for this year's tournament this weekend.

      Hunter Gibson, 15, of Fox River Grove, a member of the Norge Ski Club, launches himself from the big hill during the club's 112th International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove. Ski jumpers take to the slopes for this year's tournament this weekend. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Several snow-making machines work to cover the surface of the 70-meter hill at the Norge Ski Jump in preparation for last year's International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove. About 50 professional jumpers from Finland, Norway, Slovenia and the U.S. are set to compete this Saturday and Sunday.

      Several snow-making machines work to cover the surface of the 70-meter hill at the Norge Ski Jump in preparation for last year's International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove. About 50 professional jumpers from Finland, Norway, Slovenia and the U.S. are set to compete this Saturday and Sunday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Kevin Bickner.

Snow machines are working on full blast this week making powder for the weekend's 113th Norge Ski Jump International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove.

Officials hope to avoid a repeat of last year when unseasonably warm temperatures forced them to postpone the tournament a few weeks into February.

Roughly 50 ski jumpers from around the world will take to the slopes for this first leg of the grueling U.S. Cup Five Hills Tournament. It begins at noon Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28, at Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road, north of routes 14 and 22. Gates open at 11 a.m.

The club has five hills -- 5, 10, 25, 40 and 70 meters high.

About 1,000 spectators typically attend the junior competition, and roughly 10,000 to 12,000 spectators are expected for the amateur/professional tournament, officials said.

This year, three club members -- Michael Glasder of Cary, Kevin Bickner, formerly of Wauconda, and Casey Larson of Barrington -- are hopefuls for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.

Though none of the athletes are in town, organizers hope news of their accomplishments will bring in curious crowds to watch the weekend tourney.

"We brought a lot of excitement to the area," said Charlie Sedivec, Norge spokesman.

Norge Ski Club, started in 1905, is the oldest, continuously operating ski club in the nation.

Members hope the Olympic fervor also will generate interest in the ski club's junior development program, which is open to children as young as 4 years old.

Originally driven by volunteer coaches, the program was structured nearly 18 years ago to provide training through full-time coaches.

All three Olympic hopefuls trained at Norge as children through the program.

"It's such an opportunity to have a world-class training facility right here in the suburban Chicago area," said Guy Larson of Lake Barrington, father of Casey. "Anybody has an opportunity to come out here and learn to ski jump."

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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