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Nordic Combined Skiing

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Nordic Combined was contested at the first Winter Games in 1924.

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Nordic Combined Skiing
Winter Olympics
Torino

TORINO, Italy (CNN) -- The roots of Nordic combined skiing stretch back thousands of years, but competitions are said to have been started by the Norwegian Army in 1767. The first civilian event took place some 75 years later.

The first Holmenkollen Ski Festival was held in 1892 -- it is still considered by some to be the world's premier Nordic competition.

How it is done

There are three Nordic combined events, each of which comprise a ski jumping section followed by a cross-country race. All the events are for men only. Each competitor in the individual gundersen event completes two jumps on a 90-meter hill after one practice jump. Points are awarded for distance and style and are added after the second jump to produce a final score. That score is converted into a time differential that determines the starting order of the 15-kilometer cross-country race. The first skier to finish that race is the overall winner.

In the sprint event, skiers perform one jump on a 120-meter hill. The score from this jump again determines the starting order for the cross-country race, which in this event is held over 7.5 kilometers. The first skier over the line is the winner.

In the four-man team event, each skier completes two jumps on a 90-meter hill. The total score after all eight jumps determines each team's starting order and time in the 4x5-kilometer cross-country relay. The first team with all four skiers across the finish line is the winner.

What makes it hard

Top Nordic combined skiers must master two different and difficult disciplines. In the cross-country races, skiers must use the more tiring, but faster, freestyle technique across demanding courses that include uphill sections.

Style and distance are both important in the jumps, which are crucial as they determine the starting order and times for the cross-country. Style can also help improve distance, as proper positioning and technique during flight aid aerodynamics. That can be difficult to control, however, as skiers can reach speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour upon take-off.

While technically, the winner is merely the first skier to finish the cross-country, poor jumps will leave a competitor so far behind the first skier to begin that section that victory is all but impossible.

Decoding the Jargon

You may hear some unfamiliar terms in the expert commentary at the Nordic combined skiing during the Games. Here is what some of them mean:

Gunderson method: The process by which the final score after the ski jump leg is converted into minutes and seconds, which in turn determine the starting order and time differential between competitors in the cross-country race.

Inrun: The name of the approach ramp the skier travels down to build speed heading into the jump.

Large or normal: Jumps are held on different hills in the Nordic combined events. In the individual and team competitions, skiers jump on a 90-meter, or "normal", hill. In the sprint, the jumps are on a 120-meter, or "large", hill.

K-point: A red line drawn along snow 90 meters from the end of the ski jump ramp. Points are added if the jumper lands beyond the line and are deducted if the jumper falls short.

Telemark position: A landing position in which the skier hits the ground with one ski in front of the other.

V-position: The position skiers adopt during flight, in which the skis are brought together at the rear tips to form a V-shape and the skier leans forward until his body is almost in contact with the skis. The skier bends his knees upon landing to absorb the impact.

Which means you can sound like an expert by saying: "If someone cheats on the approach ramp before the jump, would that be an inrun scandal?"

Did you know?

In 1922 the future King Olav V of Norway (1903 -- 1991) competed in the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. He was quite an able skier, by all accounts.

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