Winter Olympics 2018: A beginner's guide to ski jumping ahead of the Pyeongchang Games

Ski jumping is one of the oldest sports at the Winter Olympics. The sport was invented in Norway in the 1800s and spread throughout Europe and North America early in the 20th century. The sport consists of skiers skiing down a ramp and jumping off it to cover as much distance as possible and make a stable landing.

Because the soaring through the air looks elegant and beautiful, ski jumping is also called "the flower of ski sports".

The International Ski Federation, which was founded in 1924, is the governing body of ski jumping along with alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Ski jumping was one of the sports included in the inaugural 1924 Winter Olympics held in Chamonix in France and has been one of the mainstays of the Winter Games. The Sochi Olympics in 2014 saw the introduction of the women's ski jumping event.

Here is all you need to know about the sport ahead of the Pyeongchang Games:

Olympic sport since: 1924 (men), 2014 (women)

Categories: Men's individual normal hill, Men's individual large hill, Men's team large hill, Women's individual normal hill

Contenders: Norway have been the most successful nation in the Olympic history of the sport with 30 medals but over the last three editions, Austria has been the top nation with eight medals.

2014 double Olympic gold medallist Kamil Stoch of Poland returns to defend his title in both the men's individual events. Giving him tough competition will be the German duo of Richard Freitag and Andreas Wellinger in the large hill event while Stefan Kraft and Daniel-Andre Tande will be gunning for gold in the normal hill event.

In the women's event, Sara Takanashi, Maren Lundby and Katharina Althaus will be competing for gold.

Days of event: 7-19 February

Medals at stake: 4

How does it work?

Ski jumping can be divided into four parts: in-run, jumping, flying and landing. The skiers begin at the starting gate at the top of the in-run crouched with their hands tucked close to their hips. This aerodynamic posture helps them to gain speed rapidly with skiers reaching speeds of almost 95 km/h at the time of jumping. Here's what that looks like:

via GIPHY

Jumping is probably the trickiest aspect of ski jumping. At the base of the in-run, the skier, who is at this point travelling at close to 90 km/h, has to not only jump up but also forward towards the base of the hill, all in the matter of a second.

via GIPHY

Once in the air, the skier's posture and the positioning of his skis determine how far he goes. In the early days of the sport, skiers would bend their body from the waist and hold the skis in a parallel position beneath their bodies. However, in the 1980s, a new technique emerged — the Graf-Boklov Technique. In this position, the skier leans forward and spreads his skis in a V formation. In the air, the skis work similar to the wings of an aeroplane providing skiers with the lift required to go as far as they can. The V formation is the most common formation used by skiers as it provides more surface area for the air to push against and lift.

via GIPHY

At the base of the hill is the construction point or the K point which is the minimum distance required to be jumped by the skier. The K point for the normal hill events is 98m while for the large hill events, the K point is 109m. The skiers need to make a stable landing.

Field of play

Ski jumping is held on a slope consisting of the in-run and the actual hill. The size of the hill varies from event to event. Normal hills are 125m long while large hills are 140m long. The fall line marks the end of the course.

Equipment required

The skis used are long and thin but the length of the skis should not be more than 145% of the skier's height. The weight of the skis also have to be in proportion to their length in the ratio of 100cm to 1kg. The skiers wear a suit made of microfibres which must be between 4.0mm and 6.0mm thick. The skiers are also required to wear helmets and goggles to prevent injuries.

Rules

As mentioned before, the K point is the minimum distance required to be jumped with points deducted for failing to jump beyond the K point. The skier is required to land in the 'Telemarking' position with the skis parallel and with one ski ahead of the other with the body lunging forward.

Ski Jumping - Ski Flying World Championships - third competition round - Oberstdorf, Germany - January 20, 2018. Andreas Wellinger of Germany reacts. REUTERS/Michael Dalder - UP1EE1K18FVII

The skier is required to land in the Telemarking position and must avoid falling until they clear the fall line. Reuters

Scoring process

Jumps are evaluated by five judges on the basis of the distance jumped as well as the style used by the skier. The distance measure is from the take-off point to the point where the skier lands. A skier wins points for every metre jumped beyond the K point. In the normal hill events, each skier is awarded two points for each metre beyond and loses two points for each metre they fall short of the K point. In the large hill events, the points gained and lost are 1.8 per metre.

The skier also earns style points on a scale of 0-20 from the judges with the highest and lowest scores being eliminated. A perfect jump can earn a maximum of 60 style points.

Since the Sochi Games, wind and the position of the starting games have been factored in while awarding points. If the skier is jumping against the wind, points are added while if the skier has assistance from the wind, points are deducted.

Similarly, a lower starting gate sees points being added while points are deducted for higher starting gates.


Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 11:37 AM

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