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Ski Jumping

Ski jumping was held at the Chamonix Olympics of 1924.


Ski Jumping
Winter Olympics

TORINO, Italy (CNN) -- Ski jumping is one of the rare skiing disciplines that did not evolve from military, transportation or communication origins. The sport dates back to 1860, when Sondre Norheim, who is still lauded in Norway as the "father of skiing", jumped 30 meters from a rock without ski poles.

The first competition was held in Norway in 1862. Ski jumping was among the sports at the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924, but a world championship was not held until 1972.

How it is done

There are three events held in Olympic competition, all of which are for men only. The individual normal hill event is held on a 90-meter hill. The top 50 skiers emerge from a qualification round to compete in the first round of the event proper. From that round, the top 30 move through to the final round. The score from the final round are added to the score from the first round to determine the winner. In all events, distances are measured in increments of 50 centimeters.

The individual large hill event is held on a 120-meter large hill. Except for the larger hill and the longer distances therefore required in the jump, this event is held in the same manner as the normal hill competition.

In the team event, there are two jumps for each of the four members of each team on a 120-meter hill. All teams compete in the first round, after which all four scores are added to produce a final score. Only the top eight teams go through to the final round, in which each team member jumps again. The scores of all four jumps are added and combined with the total first round score to arrive at an overall score. The team with the highest overall score wins.

What makes it hard

Points are awarded for style as well as distance, which means skiers must focus on form while also striving for every last inch. The success of the jump primarily comes down to the take-off, as skiers need to have reached optimum speed on the approach ramp as they launch.

Aerodynamics then become crucial and perfect form in the air can help a skier score highly in both distance and style. This can difficult to maintain during the flight, when athletes can reach speeds through the air of up to 90 kilometers per hour.

Points are deducted if skiers fall short of a designated distance, or for a sloppy landing. And remember: competitors only get one chance in each round to get everything right.

Decoding the Jargon

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

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 the snow 90 meters from the end of the ski jump ramp. Reaching the K-point receives 60 points; points are then added (1.8 per meter on a large hill, 2 per meter on a normal hill) if the jumper lands beyond the line and are deducted if the jumper falls short.

Style points: Five judges watch the jump to award points for style on flight, landing and the out-run, or the section immediately after the landing. The highest possible score is 20. The highest and lowest of these are disregarded and the remaining three are added to produce a total style score. This is then added to the distance score to give an overall score.

Telemark position: A landing position in which the skier hits the ground with one ski in front of the other. In ski jumping, the distance is measured to a point between the skier's feet on landing, which means there is an advantage in hitting the ground with one foot 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: "Ten meters past the K-line on a large. That's 78 points right there!"

Did you know?

When Sweden's Jan Bokloev first adopted the V-position in 1985, he was ridiculed and penalized by the judges for poor style. Four years later he won the World Cup using that technique and by 1992 all jumpers had followed suit.

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