Hendrickson, Glasder earn Olympic spots in ski jumping

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Today
2017 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships at the UOP HS 134 meter jump Photo: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Two more tickets were handed out to the 2018 Winter Olympics on Sunday at the Team USA Olympic Trials event in Park City, Utah.

Sarah Hendrickson, of Park City, won the women’s ski jumping competition and Michael Glasder, from Cary, Illinois, won the men’s event, each guaranteeing themselves a spot in PyeongChang, South Korea when the Olympics begins Feb. 9.

Hendrickson became the first woman to ski jump in the Olympics in 2014 when she drew the No. 1 bib in the first Olympic women’s ski jump competition.

A big first-round jump and a solid performance on her second attempt ensured she’d make a return trip to the big show.

She had the top-scoring jumps of the nine competing women in each round, and after she touched down on her second jump, she skidded to a stop in front of a huge, roaring crowd at Utah Olympic Park, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She buried her face in her hands and was quickly swarmed by teammates offering congratulations.

“I never really get the opportunity to jump in front of a home crowd,” she said in  a U.S. team news release. “For me, my goal was to have fun and smile today. When I got up today that was what I set my mind on. I love ski jumping and that’s why we are all out here.”

Abby Ringquist, also of Park City, was second, with 248.1 points to Hendrickson’s 263.4. Nita Englund, who trained for several seasons with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, placed third at 238.9. New York skier Nina Lussi was third after the first jump and was in the hunt for the title but fell while landing a monster second jump. She was carted away by medical staff, but still scored high enough to finish fourth.

Steamboat skier Annika Belshaw, at 15 years old the youngest competitor in the event, was sixth, while fellow Steamboater Logan Sankey was seventh. Both entered as longshots to make the Olympic team, but put together two strong jumps. They remain on the outside looking in, but have already recorded strong international results this season. Belshaw was 11th and 13th in a mid-December Continental Cup in Norway and Sankey 15th and 16th. They will have several more opportunities to bolster their resumes before the Olympic team is official.

The top Steamboat competitor on the men’s side, Decker Dean, wasn’t qualified to compete in the Olympic trials.

Glasder earned his first trip to the Olympics with his performance. He edged out Kevin Bickner, 270.0 points to 268.6. William Rhoads was third at 256.6 to round out the podium.

Hendrickson and Glasder join Steamboat Springs skier Bryan Fletcher, who earned a spot at the Olympics by winning Saturday’s Nordic combined Olympic trials event.

The rest of the Olympic delegation won’t be officially announced until late January.