- January 7, 2018
- Posted by: Stuart Roach
- Category: Road to PyeongChang, The Games explained
Time to soar
Ski jumping is perhaps winter sport’s most iconic event – as well as being the closest thing mankind has come to flying without the aid of an engine or parachute. First contested in Norway in the late 19th century, the discipline has been present at every Olympic Games since Chamonix 1924.
Athletes glide down a ramp at around 90kph and attempt to leap as far as possible on to the landing hill. The way athletes negotiate their way down has changed significantly – with the old arms-forward style now replaced by a streamlined ‘V-style’.
Having style while you fly is important
It’s not all about distance travelled – although that is crucial. Five judges evaluate flying, landing and outrun style and award points on a sliding scale up to 20 (with the highest and lowest score discounted). Distance points are added after the specific ‘k-point’ line on the landing.
In individual events, scores are taken from two runs combined, while in the team event, results are worked out by adding the collective scores of all four jumpers.
Not all hills are the same
Two different hill sizes are used: normal (85-109metres) and large (over 110m). There are four events at PyeongChang 2018: men’s individual normal hill (medals 10 February), women’s individual normal hill (12 February), men’s individual large hill (17 February), men’s team large hill (19 February).
The 2018 action takes place at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre in the PyeongChang Mountain Cluster. The venue, built in 2007, has been upgraded recently for Olympic competition and has an overall spectator capacity of 13,500.
The women’s event was only added to the programme at Sochi 2014, where Carina Vogt of Germany won the first gold medal.
Finland currently top the table ahead of Norway: the Finns have fewer overall medals (22 against 30), but more golds (10 compared to nine). Austria (25 medals, six gold) are the sport’s other big players.
Austria’s Stefan Kraft – who holds the ski flying world record of 253.5m – is the current world champion and will be much fancied for the podium in the Republic of Korea. In the ladies’ event Japan will be confident, with Sara Takanashi and Yuki Ito the two top-ranked jumpers last season.