Ski jumper Casey Larson is competing in his first Olympic Games but he is already collecting accolades. The U.S. athlete has been named the 100,000th man to compete in the Olympics in the 122-year history of the modern games.
The teenager found out about his title just hours before competing in his first run, the qualifying round for the normal hill event. What could have been seen as added pressure turned out to be interesting information for the 19-year-old.
"I was told just before the press conference this morning," Larson said after progressing to Saturday's final round. "It is pretty cool, I can add that to my Olympic checklist. I hope I can get some publicity about it. For my goals here, it is to make my best jump.”
Learning his unique status as the 100,000th man wouldn’t be possible without Olympic historian Bill Mallon, a renowned chronicler of the Olympics. He conducted an in-depth research process, across both Summer and Winter Games, to figure out when the milestone would be reached in competition.
He calculated that going into the PyeongChang Games, 99,983 men had competed since the first Olympiad in Athens. That meant the 17th man to compete in this year’s Games would earn the title and make history.
After six new Olympians competed in mixed doubles curling on Thursday morning, Larson as start number 16, but the 11th new Olympian, in his event was destined to set the milestone.
Larson wants to use the occasion to propel him to new heights.
"Just to get to the Olympics is awesome enough, but to be told you'll be the 100,000th is really cool. I'm going to enjoy it any way I can, hopefully by producing my best jump ever.”
Flying through the air for 100 meters is a hard enough task, so the teenager wants to make sure the momentous occasion doesn’t distract him before his jump.
"I worked super hard to get to the Olympics, but I can't afford to think about it when I'm standing up there, ready to jump."
Larson is one of four U.S. ski jumpers competing in PyeongChang. The 19-year-old finished 46th overall in the qualifying round. He will compete alongside countrymen Mike Glasder, Will Rhoads, and Kevin Bickner in the finals on Saturday. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Larson is keeping it all in perspective.
"And when I was told about the 100k thing, I thought, 'Not bad at 19'. That's really wild."