About Ski Jumping

Overview

Ski jumping is a sport in which skiers go down a take-off ramp, jump and attempt to land as far as possible down the hill below. In addition to the length of the jump, judges give points for style. The skis used for ski jumping are wide and long (260 to 275 centimetres (100 to 108 in)). Ski jumping is predominantly a winter sport, performed on snow, and is part of the Winter Olympic Games, but can also be performed in summer on artificial surfaces – porcelain or frost rail track on the in-run, plastic on the landing hill.

True ski jumping originated in Morgedal, Norway. Olaf Rye, a Norwegian lieutenant, was the first known ski jumper. In 1809, he launched himself 9.5 meters in the air in front of an audience of other soldiers. By 1862, ski jumpers were tackling much larger jumps and travelling longer. Norway’s Sondre Norheim jumped 30 meters over a rock without the benefit of poles. His record stood for three decades.

The first proper competition was held in Trysil. The first widely known ski jumping competition was the Husebyrennene, held in Oslo in 1879, with Olaf Haugann of Norway setting the first world record for the longest ski jump at 20 metres. The annual event was moved to Holmenkollen from 1892, and Holmenkollen has remained the pinnacle of ski jumping venues.

Ski Jumping Techniques

The ski jump is divided into four separate sections; 1) In-run, 2) Take-off (jump), 3) Flight and 4) Landing. In each part the athlete is required to pay attention to and practice a particular technique in order to maximise the outcome of ultimate length and style marks.

Using the modern V-technique, pioneered by Jan Boklöv of Sweden in 1985, world-class skiers are able to exceed the distance of the take-off hill by about 10% compared to the previous technique with parallel skis. Aerodynamics has become a factor of increasing importance in modern ski jumping, with recent rules addressing the regulation of ski jumping suits. This follows a period when loopholes in the rules seemed to favour skinny jumpers in stiff, air foil-like suits.

Previous techniques first included the Kongsberger technique, developed in Kongsberg, Norway by two ski jumpers, Jacob Tullin Thams and Sigmund Ruud following World War I. This technique had the upper body bent at the hip, a wide forward lean, and arms extended to the front with the skis parallel to each other. It would lead to jumping length going from 45 meters to over 100 meters.

In the 1950s Andreas Daescher of Switzerland and Erich Windisch of Germany modified the Kongsberger technique by placing his arms backward toward his hips for a closer lean.

The Daescher technique and Windisch technique were the standard for ski jumping from the 1950s.
Until the mid 1970s, the Ski jumper would come down the in-run of the hill with both arms pointing forwards. This changed when the former East German Ski jumper Jochen Danneberg introduced the new in-run technique of directing the arms backwards in a more aerodynamic position.

The landing requires the skiers to touch the ground in the Telemark landing style. This involves the jumper landing with one foot in front of the other, mimicking the style of the Norwegian inventors of Telemark skiing. Failure to comply with this regulation will lead to the deduction of style marks (points).

Olympic Ski Jumping

Ski jumping has been included in the program of every Winter Olympic Games. From 1924 through 1956, the competition involved jumping from one hill whose length varied from each edition games to the next. Most historians have placed this length at 70 meters and have classified this as the large hill.

In 1960, the ski jump hill was standardised to 80 meters. In 1964, a second ski jump, the normal hill at 70 meters (K90) was added along with the 80 meters (K120) large hill. The length of the large hill run in 1968 increased from 80 meters to 90 meters (K120). The team large hill event was added in 1988.

By 1992, the ski jumping competitions were referred by their K-point distances rather than their run length prior to launching from the ski jump (90 meters for the normal hill and 120 meters for the large hill, respectively) and have been that way ever since. For the 2006 Winter Olympics, the normal hill was designated as HS106 (K95) while the large hill was designated as HS140.

On April 6, 2011, the International Olympic Committee officially accepted women ski jumping into the official Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.