Mike Glasder earns Olympic berth in Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park
Mike Glasder, a Chicago native, swept the men’s ski jumping Olympic Team Trials on Sunday, winning both rounds of jumping. Despite the victory, Glasder said it could have easily gone another way.
“Any one of our team could have won today,” he said in a press conference after the tournament. “I was just the lucky one.”
He edged out Kevin Bickner and Parkite Will Rhoads to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team.
Though luck was on his side on Sunday, his trip to the Olympics has been a long time coming. Glasder started ski jumping when he was 5, when his parents were looking for a winter activity for him and his brothers to try. His uncle, a longtime recreational ski jumper, went jumping with the Glasders.
“I don’t remember saying this, but apparently I told my uncle, because we were supposed to go in and get lunch and take a break and come back, ‘No I’m going to stay out here until I get it right,’” Glasder said. “That’s kind of stuck with me.”
He kept at the sport as his other athletic interests waned. Soccer, baseball and wrestling fell by the wayside.
“Honestly, ski jumping was the most fun, so when I was 15 I decided to focus on ski jumping, and a couple years later move out here to Park City to train with Alan Alborn, and the next season I made the national team and it kind of took off from there.”
His dedication to the sport took him full circle, returning to his native Chicago after the local ski jumping club made significant improvements on its training and facilities.
“When everybody asks where (I’m) from and (I say), ‘Oh, the northwest suburbs of Chicago,’ everyone says, ‘What the heck, there’s no mountains there,’” he said.
But his home club, Norge, is on the cutting edge of U.S. ski jumping.
In the early 2000s, it acquired a jump from a club in Minnesota.
“Now it’s one of the best training facilities in the country,” Glasder said.
In addition to Glasder, the club is home turf for Kevin Bickner, AJ Brown and Casey Larson, who all competed on Sunday.
“It really has a huge impact on the nation as a whole,” Glasder said.
The 28-year-old team veteran said his Olympic dreams started to take shape in 2009, ahead of the Vancouver Winter Games.
“Just missed that; stuck around,” Glasder said.
Then Sochi came and went without him, and he was faced with some tough choices – keep up the nearly year-round training required to perform at a high level, with diminishing chances of Olympic glory, or drop out of a sport that had radically shaped his life.
“I kind of just stuck it out and here we are,” he said. “Happy to be going.”
He said it was not an easy decision, but Sunday’s win made it all worth it.