Ski jumping was born in 1860 when Norwegian Sondre Norheim, the father of modern skiing, built the first measured jump and flew 30 metres without poles over a rock. That record held for more than three decades. In 1862 the first organized ski jumping competition was held in Trysil, Norway. The world’s most famous ski jump is the Holmenkollen near Oslo which has hosted competitions since 1892 and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions with more than one million visitors annually.
Ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since the first edition in Chamonix in 1924. Throughout the 20th century it was a male-dominated discipline. It wasn’t until 2009 that women competed at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. After a failed attempt by female ski jumpers to have their event included at Vancouver 2010, the IOC voted to add the ladies’ individual normal hill to the Olympic program for Sochi 2014.
Ski jumping at the Olympic Games is contested on two different hills, designated as “normal” and “large” based on their hill size, which is the furthest distance that a jumper is able to safely travel. Normal hills are between 85m and 109m (106m at Sochi 2014) and large hills are larger than 110m (140m at Sochi 2014).
Results are based on both the distance the jumper achieves as well as the jumper’s body position in the air and upon landing. Each hill has a K-point based on its size (95m for normal hill; 125m for large hill). A jump to the K-point is worth 60 points. Each metre over or under the K-point is reflected by an increase or decrease in the points (+/- 2.0 for normal hill; +/- 1.8 for large hill). Five judges evaluate each jump for style on a scale of 0 to 20. The highest and lowest scores are dropped with the rest added together. The distance and style points are then added together to get the total jump score.
Jumping technique has changed quite a bit since the sport’s early days. The biggest advancement came in 1985 when Swede Jan Boklöv spread the tips of his skis into a “V” shape while putting his body into an extreme lean with his arms close to the body. Initially laughed at and penalized by judges, he won the 1989 FIS World Cup title which prompted a move en masse by other jumpers to the V-style. By 1992, all individual Olympic medal winners were using the V-style, which tests showed gave 28% more lift than the old style with the skis held parallel to each other.