Cary’s John Glasder and Scott Smith stood on Norge Ski Club’s 150-foot jump tower on a cold January evening and went to work clearing the tower’s track of snow and ice.
Less than a week before the club’s annual International Winter Tournament on Jan. 27-28, the pair were just two of many volunteers working overtime to complete preparations for the club’s largest fundraiser of the year. The work that evening was the third attempt to get the tower and hill ready for competition with fluctuating temperatures making things difficult throughout January.
But the dedication of its volunteers is the reason Norge Ski Club has been a special part of the Fox River Grove community for more than a century, and we’re proud to celebrate one of the club’s long-time dreams finally coming true this month.
Norge members Mike Glasder, of Cary, Casey Larson, of Barrington, and Kevin Bickner, of Wauconda, comprise 75 percent of the U.S. men’s ski jump team at the ongoing Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
They are the first Olympians from Norge — a major source of pride for a club receiving national and international attention.
Few embody that dream more than Smith, who has coached at the club for about 30 years and nearly qualified for the Olympics himself in 1988.
“Once I started coaching here full time, that always was a dream of mine: to get one of our kids to the Olympics,” Smith said days before the winter tournament. “Back when I had that thought, I never thought three in one year. Who would ever think Olympians out of Illinois? Twenty years ago, you would never think that.”
Norge’s three Olympians already have completed the normal-hill competition, and Smith left for Pyeongchang earlier this week ahead of the large-hill competition, which got underway Friday.
Bickner’s 18th-place finish on the normal hill was the best for an American since the Salt Lake City games in 2002. None of the three are considered serious contenders to medal on the large hill, but it hardly matters.
We’re proud of all Norge Ski Club has accomplished no matter the outcome.