When Casey Larson was a kid, he always told family and friends he was going to compete in the Olympics.
This year, at 19, he achieved that goal on the U.S. men’s ski jumping team. The team earned a ninth place finish in the ski jump team event in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Larson, of Barrington, joined two other former Fox River Grove-based Norge Ski Club jumpers during the 2018 Winter Olympics. Larson, Mike Glasder, 28, of Cary and Kevin Bickner, 21, of Wauconda made up 75 percent of the U.S. men’s ski jump team.
The club held a meet-and-greet with the three men Saturday to give fans a chance to ask questions and get autographs.
“It is cool to come back to the community where it all started,” Bickner said.
The U.S. – led by Bickner and Glasder – finished with 377.2 points overall in the February team competition, which included each of the team’s four members – the Norge trio and fourth man Will Rhoads – performing a long jump.
“I felt like I could have done a little better. I think we all as a team could have done better,” Glasder said. “Unless you win the gold medal, I feel like you are always searching for a little bit more ,but that is sports in general.”
Norway won the event with a combined score of 1,098.5 points, while Germany took silver and Poland won bronze.
“The atmosphere and being surrounded by thousands of the best athletes in the world was really special,” Glasder said. “For me besides actually competing, walking into the open ceremonies with all the U.S. athletes was really special.”
Bickner, Glasder and Larson all made their Olympic debut this year and are the first Olympians produced by Norge Ski Club.
“It was definitely worth all the training,” Larson said.
Scott Smith coached all three athletes as they grew up. He missed out on his own Olympic dream in 1988, but came back to coach the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.
Larson’s mother, Meg Larson, said her son has been vying for the Olympics since he was young, and she was proud to see him achieve his goals.
“At first it was surreal,” she said.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I am so proud of him and so proud of the club. They have been so good to us.”
The trio will visit the White House at the end of the month and plan to continue training competitively.
They all live together in a team apartment in Slovenia.