Throughout Norway in the 1800s, skiers gathered each winter for a series of ski carnivals consisting of small athletic competitions combined with some entertainment. Considered the best of all the carnival athletes, a small group specialized in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The Holmenkollen Ski Festival, held first in 1892, is still held today.
Called the “decathlon of skiing,” Nordic combined is a demanding sport that requires the strength and explosiveness needed in jumping and the endurance valued in cross-country sprints. Men’s individual events were featured at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games. The team event was introduced in 1988 and the sprint event in 2002.
Ski jumping occurs first followed by a free technique cross-country race. The break between the jumping and the cross-country race ranges from a half-hour to several hours. The jumping results generate the starting seed for the cross-country race that follows, with the second and remaining athletes beginning seconds or even minutes after the best jumper. Using pack-racing strategies, the athletes cluster into “trains” that chase down other athlete trains.
The individual event consists of two jumps on a “normal hill” (flights of about 105 metres in length) followed by a 10-km cross-country race.
A Nordic combined team is made up of four athletes, each taking two jumps on the large hill. The results for each team member are added together and the team with the highest combined score begins the cross-country race first. The four athletes then complete a 5-km cross-country relay race. The winner is the team who crosses the finish line first after the completion of four laps.