OBJECTIVE OF SKI JUMPING: Score the most points by landing the farthest ski jump possible.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1+ player(s)
MATERIALS: Jumping skis, bindings, ski boots, ski jumping suit, helmet
TYPE OF GAME: Sport
OVERVIEW OF SKI JUMPING
Ski jumping is an Olympic winter sport that features skiers descending down a hill, jumping off a ramp, and attempting to glide as far as possible in the air before cleanly sticking the landing. Due to its dare-devilish nature, ski jumping is one of the most-watched Winter Olympics sports.
Ski jumping is a Nordic skiing discipline that originated sometime in the 1800s in Norway. While there is evidence of skiers recreationally jumping off hills as early as 1808, the sport’s first organized competitions didn’t take place until 1866.
Near the start of the 20th century, while ski jumping was slowly spreading across Europe, Norwegian ski jumpers began immigrating to the United States and Canada. One immigrant in particular, Karl Hovelsen, decided to build a ski jump in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 1914. It was here that Karl shared his love of ski jumping with the Americans, and the sport truly began to take off in neighboring Rocky Mountain states.
As early as 1924, ski jumping was featured in the official Olympic program. And since the 1924 Winter Olympics held in Chamonix, France, ski jumping has been a part of every Winter Olympics.
- Jumping Skis: Skis used for ski jumping are made to be extremely light and aerodynamic and are longer and wider than those used for any other skiing event. These skis can be up to 145% of a skier’s height in length.
- Bindings: Bindings attach the skier’s boots to their skis. These are designed to unlock in the event of a fall.
- Ski Boots: Boots used for ski jumping have a high backing but are low-cut at the front to allow the skier to lean forward.
- Ski Jumping Suit: Ski jumping suits are made of thin and spongy microfiber material and must tightly fit the figure of the skier. Most importantly, these suits must be of specific air permeability.
- Helmet: Head protection is worn for both safety and performance purposes (aerodynamics).
SKI JUMPING HILLS
A ski jumping hill consists of five main parts:
The start position is the point on the hill where the competition organizers decide is the starting point of each skier. This position is chosen based on the weather conditions, and this placement directly impacts how much speed and momentum the skier generates for their ensuing jump. This starting position is marked with a metal bar that the skier sits on, with their run officially starting as they gradually lean forward and start descending the hill.
The in-run is the portion of the hill between the start position and takeoff. This downward slope is where the skier picks up speed for their jump.
The takeoff is where the in-run ends and where the skier becomes airborne. Contrary to what many people believe, the takeoff is not a ramp that slants upward but rather one that is angled 7-12 degrees downhill.
The landing slope is the entire length of the hill that the skier glides over in the air and eventually lands on. The slope of this hill is always at an angle that ensures the skier is never more than 20 feet off the ground at any point in their jump.
The out-run is the final portion of the hill that is either completely flat or slightly uphill. This is where the skier is able to decelerate after their jump.
Ski jumping events are classified according to their “hill size”, which is a measurement of the distance between the takeoff point and the “hill size point”. This hill size point sits near the end of the landing slope and is calculated by taking into account multiple variables, such as the hill’s incline.
A hill can be classified as small, medium, normal, large, or a ski flying hill. All of these hills range in size (hill size) from less than 50 meters to more than 185 meters. Most Olympic ski jumping events only use normal (85–109 meters) and large (110–184) hills for major ski jumping competitions, each being its own event.
Ski jumping events can also be team events. In the Winter Olympics, only men have a team event. However, as of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, a mixed event featuring combined teams of men and women was introduced.
For the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the following five ski jumping events were featured:
- Men’s Large Hill
- Men’s Normal Hill
- Women’s Normal Hill
- Men’s Team
- Mixed Team (men and women on each team)
Ski jumping athletes are mainly scored on the distance of their jump, although they’re also awarded “style points” and compensation points. Skiers complete two total jumps, with the scores of both jumps being combined to give them their total score.
- Distance Points: Competitors are awarded 60 points for landing on the “K-point” of the hill, which is a specific distance down the hill competitors aim to pass. Failing to reach this point results in 1-2 points (dependent on the size of the hill) being deducted for every meter short. Conversely, every meter beyond the K-point is worth 1-2 gained points in addition to the 60 points.
- Style Points: A panel of five judges observes the style, body position, steadiness, and landing of a skier’s jump. Each judge provides a score between 0 and 20 points, with the highest and lowest scores being removed and the remaining three added together. A skier can receive a maximum of 60 style points for a single jump.
- Compensation Points: Skiers have points added or subtracted from their score for certain start and weather conditions. If a favorable wind is blowing (helping the skier), the skier loses points. If an unfavorable wind is blowing during a jump, the skier is given compensation points. Similarly, a skier can choose to change how far up the hill they start their run. Starting higher up (which allows them to get more speed for their jump) results in point deductions.
SKI JUMPING TECHNIQUES AND STYLES
As a sport that’s entirely based on aerodynamics, it probably isn’t surprising to hear that the technique a ski jumper uses while gliding through the air is vital to the distance of their jump. In fact, specialized in-air techniques and styles have improved jump distances by as much as 660 meters in the past century!
There are three variables a skier can manipulate in their jumps—torso lean, arm position, and ski position. Early techniques, such as the Kongsberger technique, had the skier bend forward at the hip while extending their arms far in front of them, sometimes flapping them like a bird. This technique would prove useful, extending jumping lengths at the time by more than 300 feet.
As the sport developed, skiers quickly found more efficient techniques to more than double their jumping distance. Nowadays, all skiers keep their arms close and behind their bodies. Similarly, all skiers also bend their entire bodies forward at the ankles.
While body lean and arm position aren’t really open for experimentation anymore, the same cannot be said for ski orientation. In the 1990s, the V-style was born, with skiers holding their skis in a V shape. This technique proved so effective that it is still the primary style used today. In the past decade, skiers have also experimented using the H-style, which involves holding the skis widely apart in a parallel ‘H’ shape. Although the H-style is uncommon, it is still used by many prominent ski jumpers.
END OF GAME
The skier with the highest combined score of their two jumps is the gold medal winner of the ski jumping event.