Park City’s ski jumpers aim to leave lasting impression at Pyeongchang Olympics
Quotes courtesy of U.S. Ski & Snowboard
Of all the sports that Americans will compete in during the Pyeongchang Games, few will have as much of a Park City flavor as ski jumping. Three of the seven members of the U.S. men’s and women’s ski jumping teams grew up in Park City, and a fourth has lived and trained here for several years. With the first two ski jumping medal rounds set for Saturday and Monday, here’s a rundown of the hometown heroes you should be rooting for.
Where to watch: The men’s normal hill ski jumping competitions will be streamed at nbcolympics.com on Saturday, Feb. 10, from 5:35 to 7:20 a.m. Mountain Time and will air on NBC between 1 and 4 p.m. Women’s ski jumping will be streamed at nbcolympics.com on Monday, Feb. 12, from 5:50 to 7:20 a.m. and will air on NBC between 1 and 3 p.m. The athletes will compete in additional ski jumping events through Feb. 20.
Hendrickson became the face of U.S. women’s ski jumping early in her career and was the first woman to ski jump in the Olympics, when the event debuted at the 2014 Sochi Games. A litany of injuries have plagued her since, but she earned her spot in Pyeongchang by winning a qualifying event in December at the Utah Olympic Park. Though she has spent much of the season trying to regain her top form, the 2018 Games are a chance for her to soar back to the top of the sport. She is the only member of either the men’s or women’s ski jumping teams who has previously competed in an Olympics.
An Illinois native, Bickner trains in Park City and enters the 2018 Games as the top American ski jumper, coming in at 46th in the FIS World Cup rankings. He set a U.S. record with a 244.5-meter jump at an event in Norway last March. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine ever since I started skiing and now that it’s finally happening it’s surreal,” he said of competing in the Olympics. “I’m really excited to finally be named to the team. My goal is to do everything right and have good jumps.”
A graduate of Park City High School, Ringquist grew up dreaming of competing in the Olympics even before Salt Lake City hosted the Games in 2002. She will finally get her chance after competing at the World Cup level since 2011. “I’ve heard a lot of ‘no’s’ throughout my 21-year long career, from not being allowed in 2006 and 2010, to missing out on 2014 Games,” she said. “I almost hung my skis up four years ago, but I put my head down and worked harder than I ever have. It brings me to tears knowing all of the hard times and hard work are paying off.”
After growing up in Park City, Rhoads has established himself as one of the best men’s ski jumpers in the U.S. after making his World Cup debut in 2015. He enters the 2018 Games ranked No. 49 in the FIS World Cup standings, the second-ranked American. His 21st-place finish at a World Cup in December is tied for the highest finish by a U.S. jumper since 2003. “I am excited and honored to be a part of Team USA for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics!” he said. “I’m really looking forward to competing at the highest level and experiencing all that the games has to offer.”
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