Ski jumper

2010-02-08 18:18 BJT

The first known ski jumper was a Norwegian lieutenant named Olaf Rye, who, in 1809, launched himself 9.5 metres in the air before an audience of other soldiers. By 1862, ski jumpers like Sondre Norheim were tackling much larger jumps travelling longer distances and competing in official ski jumping contests.

The desire to jump longer led to the radical new development in 1985 of V-style, where a ski jumper holds his skis in a V-shaped position (instead of parallel) while in the air. Credited with this new style was Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklöv. At the time, most ski jumpers laughed at this innovation and Boklöv was penalized for his unorthodox style. Eventually sport science caught up with Boklöv’s advancement and realized that V-style produced 28 per cent more lift.

Men’s ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since the first Games in Chamonix, in 1924. The large hill competition was added for the Innsbruck 1964 Winter Games.

How It Works

An athlete skis down a long ramp, referred to as the in-run, and launches into the air at speeds of up to 95 kilometres per hour. Technique is integral to ski jumping as athletes must perform a very precise and well-timed takeoff. Once in the air, jumpers assume the V-style and adjust their position to maximize lift and minimize drag. Competitors are evaluated on distance and style and while there is a very close relationship between the two, the skier with the longest jump will often have the highest style points. An exception to this can be found in the landing portion of the jump as long jumps can make landing in a controlled telemark position more difficult. The quality of landing can be a determining factor in deciding the finishing place when the distances are similar.

The distance ski jumpers travel in competition is closely regulated by a jury. At the start of the competitive round, the jury selects a start gate that allows the best athletes to fly close to the maximum safe distance. All athletes start from the same gate and, as a result, less proficient jumpers fly a shorter distance. Ski jumps are designed with many start benches allowing the jury to select the appropriate start gate based on conditions such as wind, temperature, humidity, snow type and other factors that can impact the distance a jumper flies.

Normal Hill Individual

The normal hill individual event begins with a qualification jump on the day prior to competition. The 10 top-ranked ski jumpers on the World Cup circuit are pre-selected and do not necessarily have to participate in the qualification event. The remaining athletes must rank in the top 40 to receive a start.

There are two rounds of jumps. The first round has 50 starters with only the top 30 skiers moving on to the final round. The starting order for the second round of competition is in reverse from the first round, leaving the best jumps for the end.

Large Hill Individual

The large hill individual event follows the same format as the normal hill individual competition except it is held on the large hill. Most World Cup events occur on the large hill with only one or two normal hill competitions occurring throughout the season.


In this event, each team is comprised of four athletes and there are two competition rounds. In the first round, one skier from each team jumps. Then, the second skier from each team jumps. Then the third, followed by the fourth.

In the second round, only the top eight teams from the first round compete. Similar to the individual events, the less proficient jumpers go first and the best jumpers go last. The team with the highest total score over all eight jumps wins.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: