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posted: 1/5/2018 1:00 AM

Editorial: Norge ski jumper gives suburbs Olympics bragging rights

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  • Norge Ski Club member Michael Glasder, 28, of Cary celebrates after winning the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Sunday in Park City, Utah. Glasder qualified for the Olympic team.

    Norge Ski Club member Michael Glasder, 28, of Cary celebrates after winning the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Sunday in Park City, Utah. Glasder qualified for the Olympic team.
    AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Admit it, when you think ski jumping, Fox River Grove might not initially come to mind.

You might envision Park City, Utah or Lake Placid, New York, or some other mountain venue that gets hundreds of inches of snow each year.

Fox River Grove -- elevation 817 feet above sea level -- is likely better known to most suburbanites for its perch along the Fox River.

But our small suburb landed on the nation's ski jumping map in a big way this week when the hometown Norge Ski Club placed one of its own -- Cary native Michael Glasder -- on the U.S. Olympic team that's headed to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea, next month.

Glasder is the first Illinois resident to win a spot on the team -- an accomplishment worth noting in this corner of the Midwest, where we're known as "flatlanders" by our neighbors to the north.

The 28-year-old Glasder won the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City on Sunday, and as many as three fellow suburban jumpers could also take spots on the team in the coming weeks, with Norge's Kevin Bickner of Wauconda, Casey Larson of Barrington and A.J. Brown of Fox River Grove in the running.

"It was an emotional day," Norge club coach Scott Smith told our Chacour Koop after Glasder's win. "It was great to be there and see it."

Suburban athletes have competed in a host of Winter Olympic events over the years, including figure skating and ice hockey, but ski jumping is an unexpected first and a reflection of the training and hard work at Norge Ski Club. Unless you've seen the top of Norge's ski jump high above the Fox River Grove horizon, you may not know the club has operated there since it was founded in 1905 by Norwegian immigrants living in Chicago.

Smith, who has been coaching at Norge for 30 years, traces the club's recent success to 2004, when it paid $1 for a 72-meter ski jump previously owned by the city of Ely, Minnesota. The club had to have the apparatus transported more than 500 miles, but it has allowed jumpers to train at Olympic distances. At 150 feet tall, it's the largest of five jumps at the facility.

It may also be a surprise Norge is home to what organizers say is the longest continuous ski competition in North America -- the 113th International Winter Tournament, set for Jan. 27 and 28. Last year's event attracted more than 5,000 people to watch the professional competition that attracted jumpers from Finland, Norway, Slovenia and the U.S.

Many Norge club members have been ski jumping since they were children and have gone on to compete at international events. Glasder, who began when he was 5 years old, qualified for his first Olympics after missing the cut in 2010 and 2014.

As we watch the Olympics in Korea, we'll be proud to know some of the best in American ski jumping hail from here in the suburbs.

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