Team USA is looking to end a long medal drought in ski jumping, and its new team of young jumpers is ready to take off in PyeongChang for the Olympic Winter Games in a few weeks.
Nita Englund and Abby Ringquist have been named to the U.S. women’s team, and up-and-comers Kevin Bickner, Will Rhoads and Casey Larson have been named for the U.S. men as discretionary picks and based on world cup ranking.
They join 2014 Olympian Sarah Hendrickson — the first woman to ever jump in an Olympic ski competition — and Michael Glasder, both of whom won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in December.
Team USA is on a quest to win its first Olympic medal in ski jumping since Anders Haugen won bronze in 1924. Jeff Hastings came close with a fourth in the large hill event in Sarajevo in 1984. Jessica Jerome was 10th to lead the U.S. women in their Olympic debut in Sochi.
The 25-year-old Englund has posted the best U.S. results of anyone since the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, which includes a second-place finish in 2015. She is a world cup veteran and competed in her first world championships in 2017. The Florence, Wisconsin native placed seventh and eighth in the HS109 meter normal hill at the Olympic test event last year.
Ringquist, 28, was right behind Englund at the Olympic test event. A native of Park City, Utah, the world cup veteran ranks 40th in world cup standings. Ringquist had a breakout world cup season in 2013 in which she posted a career high in points and finished 21st in the world.
In 2017, Bickner, 21, smashed the U.S. distance record when he went for 244.5 meters on the ski flying hill in Vikersund, Norway. The Wauconda, Illinois native has been a U.S. ski jumping prodigy since he was 9 years old, earning two junior national titles while working his way onto five junior national teams.
Rhoads, 22, finished 21st at a world cup in December to tie the best result by a U.S. man since 2003. He won his third large hill national championship in a row last July, and is a junior national champion who has competed in four junior world championships. He also competed at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. Rhoads made his world cup debut in 2015. He and Bickner are tied for 42nd in the world cup standings this season.
Larson, just 19, scored a top-10 finish at the 2017 junior world championships last February in Park City, Utah. The Barrington, Illinois native finished sixth at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The women will have a single event on the HS109 meter normal hill. Men will have two individual competitions — one each on the HS140 meter large hill plus the HS109 normal hill — along with a team event.