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Ski Jumping Events at the Winter Olympics

In Olympic ski jumping competitions, the skiers glide down a steep hill and up over a bump. This abrupt bump at the end of the hill propels the jumper into the air at speeds around 90 kilometers per hour. The skier jumps from one larger hill onto the down slope of another smaller hill. To score well, he must maintain control throughout.

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Ski jumping has been popular in Norway since the late 19th century, when soldiers would perform jumps to entertain each other. The first official competition was 1862. Ski jumping has been a part of every Winter Olympics.

Only men were allowed to compete in this sport — until April 2011, when the International Olympic Committee added the Ladies Normal Hill Individual event to the 2014 Winter Games.

Events

There are three ski jumping events in the Olympics: normal hill, large hill, and team large hill. Large hill and team events do not (yet) exist for women. In the individual events, each skier gets one training jump and two scored jumps, which are combined together to determine the winner. In the team event, each team has four jumpers who each get two jumps. The combined high score wins.

In ski jumping, the skier skis down a ramp on a hill towards a slight lift. When they leave the ground, the goal is to stay aloft for as long as possible. Scoring is based on distance and style (both in flight and in landing). Poor style will not only cost a skier points it makes it almost impossible to get good distance.

Technique

Most skiers now use a V-pattern during flight to gain extra lift, but some might prefer to use the older style in which the skis are kept close together and the skier leans far forward over the skis. Regardless of which flight technique they use, the skiers must land using a Telemark landing style (one leg is placed in front of the other, with both legs bent — it almost looks like kneeling on one knee). If a skier fails to land in this position, he will lose points.

Scoring

Skiers are expected to make a minimum distance on each hill. This is the K-point. For the normal hill it is 95 meters, and the large hill and team event, 125 meters. A competitor who makes this distance earns 60 points. If he falls short or goes past the mark, he either loses or gains 1.8 points for every meter away from the K-point.

In addition to the distance score, ski jumpers receive style marks. There is a panel of five judges who can give the skier up to 20 points depending on how well he landed and how steady and balanced he was during the flight. The highest and lowest scores are dropped and the middle scores are added together and then added to the distance score.

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