FOX RIVER GROVE – It starts at 150 feet. To the right: a view of the Chicago skyline. To the left: the top of Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain. Directly in front: a ticket to the Junior National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska.
Contestants of Norge Ski Club’s 28th annual Autumn Ski Jump aimed to go great lengths Saturday to take home a medal, bragging rights and for some, an opportunity to snag a national championship.
Proud mother and Wauconda resident Maureen Bickner flashed a big thumbs-up to 12-year-old daughter Kailey after her 70-meter trial jump.
“It’s really fun to fly through the air,” said Kailey, a Junior National qualifying hopeful. “I would really like to go to the Olympics some day.”
Kailey has followed in the footsteps of her older brother Kevin, 17, who is on the U.S. national development team. Kevin has taken home the gold at the Junior National Championship two years in a row and hopes to one day jump for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Oakwood Hills resident Tom Kaiser came out for the event with his wife and kids in tow; his 4½-year-old son Henry paraded back and forth while sounding his Norge novelty horn. Kaiser was there to support his cousin’s 15-year-old son, Ben Kaiser, who also hopes to one day be Olympic-bound.
“The spectator atmosphere is great,” Kaiser said. “I love coming to see an alternative sport that people really care about, is exciting to watch and isn’t mainstream.”
The warm weather brought out a large crowd to see some high-flying entertainment while snacking on tasty food and libations. Attendees cheered for jumpers from all over the U.S. as well as Norway and the Ukraine. Nearly 30 jumpers competed on the smaller 5- to 47-meter hills and more than 40 jumpers took their chances on the looming 70-meter jump.
“It’s really a small, unique, national family we have here,” said event announcer and DJ John Jacobsen. “Ski jumping is really the first true extreme sport. Norge loves the town and the town loves Norge.”
The Autumn Ski Jump continues Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road in Fox River Grove. Tickets are $15 at the gate, with children 12 or younger admitted free.
Norge K70 Saturday competition results
J2 Women Class
1. Mollie Immens, Norge
2. Cara Larson, Norge
3. Hana Schrock, Itasca
4. Gabriella Armstrong, NYSEF
5. Kailey Bickner, Norge
1. Casey Larson, Norge
2. Trevor Edlund, St. Paul
3. Ben Kaiser, Norge
4. Jared Shumate, PCNSC
5. Jake Lock, PCNSC
J1 Women Class
1. Elyse Hoffmann, Blackhawk
2. Emilee Anderson, Flying Eagles
3. Sabina Gasienica, Norge
4. Elizabeth Wallace
1. Henry Kavanaugh-Beltman, Itasca
2. Somer Schrock, Itasca
Open Women Class
1. Jenny Hogemoen, Gausdal Skilog - Lillehammer
1. Christian Friberg, St. Paul
2. Michael Glasder, Norge
3. Brian Wallace, St. Paul
4. Kevin Bickner, Norge
5. A.J. Brown, Norge