Kevin Bickner may not have won the second Olympic ski jumping medal ever for the U.S. late Saturday night, but the 21-year-old from Wauconda, Illinois did register the best performance by an American man in 16 years.
Bickner finished 18th with a total score of 217.4 in the normal hill individual event at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, making it the best finish by a U.S. man since Alan Alborn finished tied for 11th in 2002. Since then, the best finish by a Team USA athlete was a 32nd-place finish by Peter Frenette in the large hill individual event in 2010.
Only 30 jumpers made the final, and Bickner was the only American.
This is Bickner’s first Olympics. His only appearance at a world championships came in 2017 when he finished 47th on the normal hill and 30th on the large hill, which was the best finish by a U.S. athlete since 1999. He also set an American record of 244.5 meters at a world cup event in Norway in 2017, was the USSA Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year in 2016 and finished second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in January.
Anders Haugen remains the only U.S. ski jumper to medal at the Winter Olympics, doing so in 1924. He was originally credited with a fourth-place finish, but 50 years later it was discovered his total points had been calculated incorrectly and Haugen actually finished third. He received the bronze medal at a special ceremony in 1974.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.