Olympic success brings extra joy to Norge festivities

 
Updated 1/28/2018 6:58 PM
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  • Niklas Malacinski makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. The mood at the 112-year-old club was especially festive Sunday as members celebrated the success of three Olympians who trained at the facility.

      Niklas Malacinski makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. The mood at the 112-year-old club was especially festive Sunday as members celebrated the success of three Olympians who trained at the facility. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Ben Kaiser of the Norge Ski Club comes to a stop surrounded by fans Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Ben Kaiser of the Norge Ski Club comes to a stop surrounded by fans Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Niklas Malacinski makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Niklas Malacinski makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Ville Korhonen celebrates Sunday after making a jump during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Ville Korhonen celebrates Sunday after making a jump during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Crowds filled the grounds of the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove on Sunday for the second day of the annual Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament.

      Crowds filled the grounds of the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove on Sunday for the second day of the annual Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Maxim Glyvka makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Maxim Glyvka makes a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Maxim Glyvka comes to a stop surrounded by fans Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Maxim Glyvka comes to a stop surrounded by fans Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Top-level athletes from across the world compete during the annual Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Top-level athletes from across the world compete during the annual Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Decker Dean pumps his fist after making a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018.

      Decker Dean pumps his fist after making a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Tony Benzie of the Flying Eagles Ski Club comes to a stop after making a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove.

      Tony Benzie of the Flying Eagles Ski Club comes to a stop after making a jump Sunday during the Norge Winter Ski Jump Tournament in Fox River Grove. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The gathering for the Norge Ski Jump International Winter Tournament in Fox River Grove is always festive.

On Sunday, though, fans, club members and budding young ski jumpers at the 113th edition of the event had something unique to celebrate in the facility's long history.

Three Norge Ski Club members -- Michael Glasder of Cary, Kevin Bickner, formerly of Wauconda, and Casey Larson of Barrington -- are expected to compete next month during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They are the first members of the 112-year-old club to earn spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

"It's exciting. It's our small little town. Who would have thought that these guys would be going? It makes me cry," said Kristen Immens of Fox River Grove.

Immens said her 17-year-old daughter, Mollie, is hoping to follow in the Olympians' footsteps.

"This is a dream they have had since they were little," Kristen Immens said.

Ski jumper Jacob Fuller, 16, of McHenry said the Norge trio's success shows what's possible for young athletes like himself who train at Norge.

"It's definitely a motivator, especially for the younger athletes here," added Ben Kaiser, 19, who's been jumping at Norge since he was 11.

On a day with temperatures hovering around freezing, the aroma of burning charcoal tinged the air at Norge as tailgaters crowded the muddy parking field Sunday for day two of the annual winter competition.

Many were maintaining family traditions, like the great-grandchildren of onetime Norge skiing captain Marty Wingsness, who were drinking out of shot glasses attached to one of his skis.

In the crowd was Maureen Bickner, mother of Kevin, there to watch her 17-year-old daughter, Kailey, jump in the tournament.

"It's definitely a commitment," she said of competing at the highest level. "I think it was a commitment that was joyfully made. You go to all of the competitions on the weekends, but you're with people that you love."

She said her son believed he would earn a trip to the Winter Games just months after he started ski jumping.

"He had it in his head when he was 10," she said. "I remember when he was 10, he was downhill skiing and I was sitting in a chair lift with him, and he said, 'I always thought I would be going to the Olympics for ski racing, but I guess it will be for ski jumping.'"

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