Sports

Park City ski jumper Kevin Bickner headed to another Olympics

PARK CITY, Utah — Eight years ago, Kevin Bickner moved to Park City from Illinois to focus on ski jumping. Four years later, he broke the American record for the longest ski jump at 244.5 meters in Norway. Four years after that feat, he’s heading to his second Winter Olympics in Beijing. It’s not uncommon for elite athletes like Bickner to mark the passage of time in four-year increments.

Finishing ninth in the team event in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the 25-year-old already has some Olympic experience under his belt with crowds roaring in the stadium. With the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to disallow overseas spectators at the 2022 Games, he told TownLift, “It’s really a shame how strict things will be at the Olympics this year. I don’t think it’s going to be quite the typical Olympic experience. I think the restrictions are a bit overboard, but I understand why they are in place, especially with the current surge that the entire world is experiencing.”

Knowing you’re going to the Olympics weeks earlier than competitors is a huge advantage for Bickner. On Christmas Day in Lake Placid, New York, he attended the win-and-you’re-in Olympic Team Trials and did just that.

In the rare moments when he’s not on the hill at the Utah Olympic Park, Kevin works at Ptarmigan Property Services, maintaining residences at Deer Valley and Canyons to, he said, “help fund my travel expenses.” His family, unable to travel to China to watch him represent the USA, will watch from Park City. This includes his dad, Tom, whose immensely involved at USA Nordic, his mom, Maureen, who works at the Winter Sports School, and his two sisters, Brandalyn, and a ski jumper in her own right, Kailey.

The 2016 US Ski and Snowboard’s Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year said of the atypical Beijing 2022 Olympics, “I’m sure Opening Ceremonies is going to be a logistical nightmare, but I trust they will pull it off. I hope the performance won’t be compromised by the restrictions. The Closing Ceremony is probably going to look very different. I’m sure no one will want to be locked away for a week or more just to attend, so we’ll most likely only see athletes attend who have events towards the end of the games.”

Nordic combined is a discipline contested by some of Bickner’s teammates. The American record he set four years ago was in ski flying. Every nordic combined athlete ski jumps but not every ski jumper does nordic combined, and every ski flyer ski jumps but not every ski jumper ski flies. Therefore, Bickner’s athletic career trajectory is already unique, regardless of where the course of his jumps lands one month from now in his second Olympic Games.

USA Nordic athlete Kevin Bickner.
USA Nordic athlete Kevin Bickner. Photo courtesy of the Bickner family

 

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