LAKE PLACID — Kevin Bickner and Anna Hoffman had a pretty solid Christmas, to say the least.
They won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for ski jumping Saturday at the Olympic Jumping Complex. Each also received a $10,000 check for their efforts.
For Bickner, the win locked him a spot on the 2022 Winter Olympic roster — the second Olympic appearance of his career.
“It’s exciting. The Olympics are an incredible event. Ever since going to the last one, I knew I needed to go to another,” Bickner said. “To make it happen and to be sure that I’m going this far ahead is also nice.”
Hoffman, however, did not qualify for the Olympic team because the U.S. women have not scored enough World Cup points to qualify for a spot. The women’s team will have more competitions to clinch a spot before the Olympic quota stops. If a spot is clinched, it will be awarded to Hoffman.
“We have six more competitions until the Olympic quota stops. I think that our team is fully capable and able to get Olympic spots,” Hoffman said.
The first and the last jumps in the men’s ski jumping competition were the two longest jumps in the entire event, both of which came from Bickner.
“I think I was able to bring some of the best jumps I’ve been having all week to the competition today,” Bickner said. “I think I did well and I’m happy with how I’ve been jumping along with my results.”
Bickner, 25, of Wauconda, Illinois, opened the competition with a 96-meter jump to earn him 128.5 points, which was 10 points higher than second-place finisher Decker Dean after the first round.
Dean, who had a 92.5-meter jump (118.5 points) in the first round, put some pressure on Bickner with a solid second jump. His second jump was 95 meters long and earned him 125.5 points, for a total of 244 points.
“I had a good second jump. I wish I could have done that twice to give Kevin a little more of a run for his money. But that’s the sport. That’s how it is,” Dean said.
Following Dean’s performance, Bickner jumped 96.5 meters to earn 128.5 once again to win the event.
“It feels amazing. I’ve been focusing on this event for a while now and to finally come out here and take the victory. It means a lot to me,” Bickner said.
Even with a spot on to the Olympic team on the line, every member of both teams congratulated one another.
“I’m super pumped for Kevin. I definitely wanted to beat him, but that’s how it goes. I’m looking forward,” Dean said. “Me and him fly out tomorrow. I’m looking forward to keeping it going.”
Casey Larson finished in third place after posting 91 (113.5 points) and 91.5 (115.5 points) meter jumps for a total of 229 points.
“All of us top three guys, it’s anybody’s day at any time. It’s frustrating a little bit, but at the same time I can’t be mad or anything. I had a great time today,” Dean said. “It’s my first Olympic trials, so I’m super stoked.”
On the women’s side, the competition was intense with Hoffman winning the event by 0.5 points over Logan Sankey.
In the first round, Sankey set the bar pretty high. She jumped 88 meters and earned 107 points to lead the entire pack. In second place was Hoffman, who had the second-longest jump in the round of 85.5 meters with 101.5 points.
In the second round, the weather started to get foggy, but it did not stop Hoffman from having the longest jump of the day. She jumped 90.5 meters to earn a triumphant 113 points.
With the pressure on, Sankey had an identical jump of 88 meters to earn 107 points, but her 214 point total was not enough to beat Hoffman’s 214.5 points.
Annika Belshaw finished in third place. Belshaw recorded jumps of 82 and 88.5 meters in the two rounds to earn a total of 200.5 points.
Nina Lussi, a Lake Placid native and a New York Ski Educational Foundation athlete, finished in sixth place overall. Her first jump was 74.5 meters long which earned her 77.5 points, while her second jump was even better. Lussi jumped 78 meters to earn 83.5 points. She finished with a total of 161 points.
“Today was so much fun. It was great to be with my teammates and cheering each other on,” Hoffman said. “We were celebrating Christmas all together so it was a lot of fun. It’s just nice to be on a ski jump in the states and compete on home turf.”
The United States is expected to announce its full Olympic team roster is late January.