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What You Need to Know About Ski Jumping

 1994 Golds
 How It Works
 Critical Moment
 U.S. Outlook
 Others to Watch
 Looking Back at Lillehammer
 Gold Medalists

Venue: The ski jumping event will take place at the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium in Hakuba. Completed in 1992, the facilities consist of a large hill (120 kilometers) and a normal hill (90 kilometers) and are located at the southern end of the Happo'one ski area, site of the downhill and Super G events. The runs were elevated off of the mountain to minimize the environmental impact.

1994 Golds: normal hill (Espen Bredensen, Norway); large hill (Jens Weissflog, Germany); team (Germany); combined (Fred Borre Lundberg, Norway); team combined (Japan).

How It Works: Ski jumping and the Nordic combined, which includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing, rely heavily on the strength and technical control of the participants. The Nordic combined is considered one of the most demanding of all sports because it requires the use of different sets of
KRT Graphic

No jumping events for women are held at the Olympic Games.

In order for skiers to soar the length of two football fields, they must have an understanding of the aerodynamics of flight and how wind and velocity affects each jump. A highly specialized and spectacular event, the skis used in these events are made of wood, fiberglass and epoxy. Jumping skis are 1½ times as wide as Alpine skis and weigh as much as 16 pounds.

The two individual jumping events take place on the 90-meter normal hill and 120-meter large hill. Skiers are judged on the form of their jumps once they reach the end of the approach, where they spring outward and upward. Once in flight, they keep their bodies parallel to their skis. The skiers' knees and hips absorb the shock of the landing. Skiers are often not more than 10 feet in the air during the jump, as their flight curve follows that of the hill. Participants earn points based on distance and form.

Teams of four jumpers compete in two rounds after which the top three scores are combined to determine the total team score.

The individual event of the Nordic combined features a jump from the normal hill and a 15km cross-country race. The three-man team combined event consists of a 90-meter jump with a 30km race.

Critical Moment: A well-executed takeoff puts skiers in the aerodynamically correct position for achieving a long jump.

KRT Graphic

 1. Skiers glide down the ramps with body leaning slightly forward.
 2. The instant that skiers are airborne, they move thighs forward and keep their skis flat. The upper body does not change position.
 3. Perfect flight position is a flat back; the upper body parallel with skis; skis are in V-position, with heels slightly lower than hips.
 Landing: Jumpers are required to position one leg in front of other and bend body forward as they touch landing hill; this is known as a "telemark" landing.

History: As is the case with other Nordic sports, ski jumping was introduced to the United States by Scandinavian immigrants. Eight years after Norwegian immigrants built a ski jump in 1882 in Berlin, N.H., the Nansen Ski Club was formed in honor of explorer Fridtjof Nansen of Norway. The club hosted jumping meets into the 1970s and remains the nation's oldest continuously operating club. Jumping distances grew dramatically between the first major jumping event in Oslo in 1879, during which the winner made a 66-foot jump, and 20 years later, when that distance almost doubled to 117 feet. Henry Hall, a Norwegian immigrant, shattered that record in 1917, by jumping 203 feet at Steamboat Springs, Col.

Ski jumping has been included in the Winter Olympic Games since they began in 1924 in Chamonix, France, but it was not until 1964 that the large hill competition was introduced to accompany the normal hill event. World championships for ski jumping began in 1925, and a World Cup tour was established in 1980. There never have been any ski jumping events for women in the Winter Olympics.

DateEventTime (ET)
Feb. 11 Ski jumping, 90-meter individual 7:30 p.m. (Feb. 10)
Feb. 13 Nordic comb. (ind), 90-meter jump 7:30 p.m. (Feb. 13)
Feb. 14 Nordic combined (ind.), 15K 11 p.m. (Feb. 13)
Feb. 15 Ski jumping, 120-meter individual 7:30 p.m. (Feb. 14)
Feb. 17 Ski jumping, 120-meter (team) 7:30 p.m. (Feb. 16)
Feb. 20 Nordic combined, 4x5K relay 11 p.m. (Feb. 19)

U.S. Outlook: There is little hope for the American ski jumping team in Nagano, as evidenced by the fact that they were unable to compete in a recent ski jumping world championship. Kari Ylianttila, who directed the powerful Finnish jumpers to success at the Olympics and world championships, takes over this season as head coach of the American team, but results are believed to be years away. In the Nordic combined, however, the Americans were fifth at the 1997 World Championships, giving them hope of squeezing onto the medal stand in an Olympics sometime soon.

Others to watch: Norway's Bjorn Daehlie, who made spectacular medal performances in Albertville and Lillehammer, is hoping to give it another run in Nagano. Daehlie holds the world championships in the 15km freestyle pursuit, the 10km classical and the men's relay. Mika Myllylan, of Finland, is the world champion 50km marathoner and as evidenced by his silver medal performance in the 15km pursuit and bronze in the 10km classic at the 1997 world championships, he is comfortable with short and long distances.

Gold Medalists:

 Ski Jumping  Nordic Combined

Men's Ski Jumping (Normal Hill)
Year Name, Country Points
1964 Veikko Kankkonen, Finland 229.90
1968 Jiri Raska, Czechoslovakia 216.5
1972 Yukio Kasaya, Japan 244.2
1976 Hans-Georg Aschenbach, East Germany 252.0
1980 Toni Innauer, Austria 266.3
1984 Jens Weissflog, East Germany 215.2
1988 Matti Nykanen, Finland 229.1
1992 Ernst Vettori, Austria 222.8
1994 Espen Bredesen, Norway 282.0

Men's Ski Jumping (Large Hill)
Year Name, Country Time
1924 Jacob Tullin, Norway 18.960
1928 Alf Andersen, Norway 19.208
1932 Birger Ruud, Norway 228.1
1936 Birger Ruud, Norway 232.0
1948 Petter Hugsted, Norway 228.1
1952 Arnfinn Bergmann, Norway 226.0
1956 Antti Hyvarinen, Finland 227.0
1960 Helmut Recknagel, East Germany 227.2
1964 Toralf Engan, Norway 230.70
1968 Vladimir Beloussov, USSR 231.3
1972 Wojciech Fortuna, Poland 219.9
1976 Karl Schnabl, Austria 234.8
1980 Jouko Tormanen, Finland 271.0
1984 Matti Nykanen, Finland 231.2
1988 Matti Nykanen, Finland 224.0
1992 Toni Nieminen, Finland 239.5
1994 Jens Weissflog, Germany 274.5

Men's Team Ski Jumping
Year Country Points
1988 Finland 634.4
1992 Finland 644.4
1994 Germany 970.1

Men's Nordic Combined
Year Name, Country Points
1924* Thorleif Haug, Norway 18.906
1928 Johan Grottumsbraaten, Norway 17.833
1932 Johan Grottumsbraaten, Norway 446.0
1936 Oddbjorn Hagen, Norway 430.30
1948 Heikki Hasu, Finland 448.80
1952 Simon Slattvik, Norway 451.621
1956 Sverre Stenersen, Norway 455.0
1960 Georg Thoma, West Germany 457.952
1964 Tormod Knutsen, Norway 469.28
1968 Frantz Keller, West Germany 449.04
1972 Ulrich Wehling, East Germany 413.34
1976 Ulrich Wehling, East Germany 423.39
1980 Ulrich Wehling, East Germany 432.20
1984 Tom Sandberg, Norway 422.595
1988 Hippolyt Kempf, Switzerland 432.230
1992 Fabrice Guy, France 426.47
1994 Fred B. Lundberg, Norway 457.970
Note: *Different scoring system; 1924-1952 distance was 18 km; 1952-present, 15 km.

Looking Back at Lillehammer: The Norwegians had the home field advantage at the 1994 Games, and they took advanatage of it. Norway won its 24th and 25th medals at the ski jump venue, the most medals that it has ever earned at the Olympics.

Norway's Espen Bredensen, who finished in last place in Albertville, came back to win the gold medal in 1994 in the 90-meter jump. Countryman Lasse Ottesen was not far behind and gave Norway a one-two finish. Bredensen was edged out of first place in the 120-meter jump by Jens Weissflog of Germany, which also won the team competition. The Japanese took the silver and the Austrians left with the bronze.

In the Nordic combined event, Norway's Fred Borre Lundberg was ahead by so much that he was able to pick up a Norwegian flag from a spectator as he sailed to the gold medal. Lundberg finished more than a minute ahead of silver medalist Takanori Kono of Japan. Norway's Bjarte Engen Vik won the bronze. The Japanese won the Nordic combined team competition, with Norway second and Switzerland third.

Trivia: 1. Which ski-jumper went from last place at the 1992 Olympics to first place in 1994?
2. About how far do ski-jumpers fly?
3. The International Olympic Committee added ski-jumping events for women for which Olympics?

© Copyright 1998

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