Team USA ski jumper Kevin Bickner will make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang. But don't be fooled by Bickner's Olympic inexperience, the 22-year-old has already etched his name in the record books.
Ski jumping beginnings
By ski juming standards, Bickner was a bit of a late bloomer, first picking up the sport when he was 9. He comes from a family of skiers. His father, Tom, is a member of the USA Nordic Sport Board of Directors, while his 16-year-old sister is a member of the USA Women’s Development Team.
Before joining the professional ranks, Bickner dominated the junior circuit, racking up two silver medals before taking home the gold in 2012 and 2013. He set an American record in 2017 at a World Cup event in Norway, soaring 244.5 meters. Oh, and he also placed 30th on the large hill at the 2017 World Championships — the best finish by a U.S. man on the large hill since 1999.
In 2016, Bickner was named the 2016 USSA Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year after he scored a personal best of 214.5 meters in Vikersund, Norway — the second furthest jump in U.S. men's history at the time. A year later, Bickner returned to the same spot, shattering the American record.
Bickner competes on both the normal and large hills, but experienced the biggest success of his young professional career on the large hill, with his historic 30th-place finish in 2017.
“It’s insane,” Bickner told TeamUSA.org about ski jumpng. “You hit a point where you stop falling, you hit the wind just right and you go from a falling feeling to actually flying. It’s incredible.”
Bickner will make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang, and he has a few tricks up his sleeve ... or boots.
Bickner will make his debut Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 a.m. ET when qualifying for the men's normal hill competition gets underway (stream here).
Off the slopes
Bickner splits his time training between Park City, UT, and Slovenia, where he's become a celebrity among the local women, according to his mother.
“For Poland, one of the best ski jumping countries in the world, this is the sport above all sports,” Bickner's mother told TeamUSA.org. “When he’s there, people are always asking for his autograph and he gets a lot of mail from Polish girls and Slovenian girls – I’d say a couple a day. They’ll ask for a card or one of his bibs that he wore and they’ll send him chocolate or they draw things.”
When he's not driving European women crazy, Bickner is attending online college.