A new generation of U.S. Olympic hopefuls take flight at the Nordic combined and ski jumping trials in Park City, Utah, on Saturday and Sunday.
NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air ski jumping trials coverage Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Nordic combined takes place Saturday.
Three athletes will qualify for the Olympic team at trials — the winner in each event. The rest of each team will be chosen in January, based on form this season and discretionary criteria.
The only U.S. Olympic medals in either sport in the last 90 years came in 2010, when veterans Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane led the way.
All are now retired.
Likewise, U.S. female ski jumping pioneers Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, who helped the event gain Olympic inclusion for the first time in 2014, retired after competing in Sochi.
And in men’s ski jumping, nobody on the trials entry list owns Olympic experience.
So, who is worth watching?
Start with Nordic combined brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, who were part of a sixth-place team in Sochi. (The U.S. might not qualify a team event spot for PyeongChang and could have as few as two Nordic combined skiers overall at the Games.)
Bryan, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 4, picked up an individual fifth-place finish at the 2015 World Championships.
Then at the last World Cup stop, he matched his best individual World Cup finish (seventh) since before the Sochi Games.
Sarah Hendrickson, who wore bib No. 1 in Sochi as the first female Olympic ski jumper, continues to be the face of the U.S. program.
Hendrickson was a Sochi medal favorite after winning the 2013 World title, but she tore her right ACL and MCL less than six months before the Games and was fortunate to even make it to Russia. She finished 23rd.
Hendrickson suffered a second ACL tear in summer 2015 and underwent a complete ACL reconstruction in November 2015.
She returned as the U.S.’ top jumper last season, ranking 14th in the world, with Nita Englund two spots behind her.
“Life is so much easier without knee pain… only took 4 years,” Hendrickson tweeted Nov. 4, though she was 45th and 52nd in two World Cup events later that fall.
Young U.S. male ski jumpers give the team hope of its first top-30 Olympic finish since the 2002 Games.
Will Rhoads, 22, had career-best 21st- and 29th-place finishes at a World Cup stop earlier this month.
Kevin Bickner, 21, placed 15th in a ski flying event in March, the best World Cup result by an American man since 2003.
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