All Barrington eyes are on hometown hero, Casey Larson during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 19-year-old ski jumper and Barrington High School graduate has already made history this week by becoming the 100,000th male athlete to ever compete in the Olympics, according to historian Bill Mallon.
Casey’s parents and sister, Cara are with him in Pyeongchang. We caught up with his mom, Meg via Facebook after Friday’s Opening Ceremony where she and husband, Guy were interviewed for NBC’s coverage of the festivities.
I messaged Meg Larson to find out how things are going in Pyeongchang and how it feels to watch her son on the Olympic stage. “It’s surreal that I’m even having this conversation about being the mother of an Olympian. How did we get here? I am so proud of Casey’s perseverance and dedication. I think I should take a few lessons from him! This is all on Casey.”
Casey learned to ski at age 3 and became hooked on jumping at age 6 when he tried the Learn to Fly program for jumpers at Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove. Meg says he set his eye on the goal of making it to the Olympics and he made it happen.
“My husband and I are grateful we could support his dream. I am hoping we provided a healthy balance of encouragement and reality. He did the rest.”
While Casey is competing in the 2018 Winter Games, the Larsons are already looking ahead to 2022.
“People keep telling us that this is a ‘once in a lifetime experience’,” Meg says. “However, our daughter, Cara’s dream is to compete in the Olympics with her brother (she is a ski jumper as well) and she seems to have the same drive as Casey!”
365Barrington’s Gus Goetze produced a short film featuring Casey & Cara Larson in February of 2016 where they both shared their desire to be best in the sport, with their eye on the Olympic Games. Seeing Casey’s dream become reality in Pyeongchang puts this video in new perspective.
I also asked Meg how Casey is feeling and whether his emotions are as expected now that he’s competing with Olympians. She says he’s feeling proud to have reached this goal after many years of preparation.
“He is excited to represent his country, and Barrington, and USA Nordic,” Meg says. “He seems to be soaking in the experience while staying focused. He is trying not to let the world stage affect his performance. I think he is doing great at balancing the big stage and ‘just doing his thing’. I’ll bet he is nervous, however, he knows his hard work is paying off.”
Meg also says all of the support from Barrington has been a big boost to Casey as he prepares for his toughest competition in the days ahead.
“I can tell you that we are humbled by the outpouring of good wishes, the cheering on from Barrington. My husband and I just look at each other and say ‘This is crazy. Casey did it. We are at the Olympics!'”
“Casey is in a good spot. He has made the team,” Meg says. “He is under no pressure to podium. He is simply enjoying the payoff of his training and this rare opportunity to gain the experience of high level competitions.”
Casey became the 100,000th male Olympic athlete during a qualifying jump Thursday in the Normal Hill Competition, advancing him to Saturday’s finals. His teammates from Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Kevin Bickner (Wauconda) and Michael Glasder (Cary), also qualified along with the fourth TeamUSA ski jumper, William Rhoads from Park City, Utah.
Next up is the Men’s Large Hill Individual Competition, with training rounds in the days ahead followed by the qualifying round on Friday, February 16th. The Men’s Team rounds will take place on Monday, February 19th. Click here to find the daily 2018 Winter Olympics schedule for ski jumping.
If you’d like to see Casey’s own updates throughout the Winter Olympics, follow along and see it all through his eyes at Instagram.com/CaseyLarson.