Beijing Winter Olympics will be second consecutive Games for Bickner
Wauconda native Kevin Bickner is heading back to the Winter Olympics.
Bickner, 25, who grew up training with the Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, secured his spot on Team USA's ski jumping team on Christmas Day when he finished first at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Lake Placid, New York. He won the men's ski jumping trials Saturday by accumulating 257 points through two rounds, 13 ahead of Decker Dean.
The 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing, will be Bickner's second consecutive Olympics after he competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. He finished 20th in the large hill competition in those Games.
Although there will be opportunities to qualify for the Olympics beyond Saturday's trials, Bickner was happy to guarantee his spot to the Beijing Games, which will start Feb. 4.
"There is a lot of work that went into this," Bickner said. "Over the past year, I've been coming back from some time off and getting back to where I was a couple years ago. I'm super excited to be going back to the Olympics. It has been a little bit more difficult this time around, and I knew this was going to be an important event to win to secure that spot."
Bickner opened the first round of the trials with a 96-meter jump and secured his spot on Team USA when he jumped 96.5 meters in the second round, finishing first overall.
Barrington native Casey Larson, who also trained at Norge, finished third overall with 182.5 points.
Two other Norge jumpers, Patrick Gasienica of Chicago and women's jumper Cara Larson of Barrington (Casey's sister), also competed at the trials.
Team USA should have other spots in the Olympics, but there will be another month of competitions in Europe to determine those spots.