Nordic Combined / Jumping Programs
ABOUT SKI JUMPING
The first known ski jumper was Norwegian Olaf Rye, who jumped 9.5 metres in 1809 before an audience of other soldiers. By 1862, ski jumpers like Sondre Norheim were tackling much larger jumps, and competing in official ski jumping contests.
Ski jumping saw radical new development in 1985 with the innovative V-style, where a ski jumper holds his skis in a V-shaped position (instead of parallel) while in the air. Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklöv was the first athlete to employ this technique, after suffering an in-air seizure, using the technique to save himself from a crash landing. Other competitors quickly realized that V-style produced additional lift - was later verified to create 28 per cent more lift - and universally adopted the style.
Men’s ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since the first Games in Chamonix, in 1924. The large hill competition was added for the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck.
Ski jumping for women has been recognized by the FIS, and will compete in the World Championships for the first time in Liberec, CZE in 2009.
In ski jumping, an athlete skis down a long ramp, referred to as the inrun and launches into the air at speeds of up to 95 km/h. Technique is integral to ski jumping as athletes must perform a very precise and well-timed takeoff. Once in the air, athletes assume the V-style airfoil and adjusts his position to maximize lift and minimize drag. Competitors are evaluated on distance and style. While there is a very close relationship between distance and style, and the skier with the longest jump will often have the highest style points, an exception to this can be found in the landing portion. Long jumps can make landing in a controlled telemark position more difficult. The quality of landing can therefore be a determining factor in deciding on finishing place if the distances are similar.
Two jumps are used in Olympic competition: normal hill and large hill, with the normal hill being the smaller of the two. The jump’s actual height is of little importance; it’s the length of jump that the hill is designed to accommodate that’s key. Athletes can travel 105 metres on a normal hill and 140 metres on a large hill. The only American to win an Olympic medal in ski jumping is Anders Haugen, who placed 4th in 1932, but due to the discovery of a calculation error more than 50 years after the competition, he was awarded a bronze medal.
"Ski flying" in a radical new feature of ski jumping. Although not contested in Olympic competitioin, ski flying is regularly featured in the World Cup, and has a World Championship every second year. The current world record is 239 meters, and it required a full 9 seconds of flight time to cover that distance!
(View video of record jump here.)
The distance ski jumpers travel in competition is closely regulated by a jury. At the start of the competitive round, the jury selects a start gate that allows the best athletes to fly close to the maximum safe distance. All athletes start from the same gate and, as a result, less proficient jumpers fly a shorter distance. Ski jumps are designed with many start benches allowing the jury to select the appropriate start gate based on conditions as wind, temperature, humidity, snow type and other facts can impact the distance a jumper flies.
Normal Hill Individual
The normal hill individual event is usually the first ski jumping event in the Olympic schedule beginning with a qualification event on the day prior to the competition. The 15 top-ranked ski jumpers are the World Cup circuit are pre-selected and do not necessarily have to participate in the qualification event. The remaining athletes must rank in the top 35 to receive a start.
In the official competition, there are two rounds of jumps. The first round sees 50 starters (15 pre-qualified and 35 qualified) and only the top 35 skiers from this round move on to the final round. The starting order for the second round of competition is in reverse from the first round, leaving the best jumps for the end of the competition.
Large Hill Individual
The large hill individual event follows the same format as the normal hill individual competition except that it is held on the large hill. Most World Cup events occur on the large hill with only one or two normal hill competitions occurring throughout the season.
Large Hill Team
In this event, each team is comprised of four athletes and there are two competition rounds. In the first round, one skier from each team jumps. Then, the second skier from each team jumps. Then the third, followed by the fourth skier, until all the skiers have jumped one round.
In the second round, only the top eight teams from the first round compete. Similar to the individual events, the starting order for the second round sees the less proficient jumpers go first and the best jumpers go last. The team with the highest total score over all eight jumps wins.
ABOUT NORDIC COMBINED
Throughout Norway in the 1800s, skiers gathered each winter for a series of ski carnivals – essentially small competitions with a little popular entertainment thrown in.
A small group of these winter athletes specialized in both cross-country skiing, which demands endurance and strength, and ski jumping, which requires physical strength and technical control. These athletes were considered the very best of all the carnival athletes.
Men have competed in Nordic combined individual events since the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, in 1924. The team event was introduced at the Calgary 1988 Winter Games, while the sprint event joined the Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City in 2002.
How It Works
In the Olympic Nordic combined events, men compete in individual, sprint and team events. The jumping portion occurs first followed by a free technique cross-country race. The break between the jumping and the cross-country race can be as little as 35 minutes or as long as a few hours.
Known as a “Gunderson” or pursuit start, in each of the events, the results of the jumping generate the starting seed for the cross-country race that follows seeing the second and subsequent athletes begin seconds or even minutes after the best jumper. Using pack-racing strategies, the athletes cluster into “trains” that chase down other “trains’” of athletes. The winner of the Nordic combined event is the first athlete across the cross-country finish line.
This event consists of two jumps on a “normal hill” (flights of about 105 metres in length) followed by a 15-kilometre cross-country race.
The sprint event format is similar to that of individual except that the athletes jump on a “large hill” (flights of about 140 metres in length), complete only one ski jump and race a shorter, 7.5-kilometre cross-country course.
In Nordic combined, a team is made up of 4 athletes with each taking two jumps on the large hill. The results for each team member are added together and the team with the highest combined score begins the cross-country race first. The 4 athletes then complete a 4 x 5-kilometre cross-country relay race with the winner being the team who crosses the finish line first after the completion of four laps.