Winter Olympic Games: Nordic Combined

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Nordic combined skiiers at the Sochi Olympics. Photo credit: eWilding /

Nordic combined is a winter sport whereby the athletes take part in cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The athletes ski down a steep ice track. The game involves both individual and relay teams. To take part in the Nordic combined competition, an athlete requires ski boots, skiing poles, ski suit and helmet, and ski wax. The speed of the cross-country skiing requires an athlete to put on protective clothing. Nordic combined is one of the oldest Winter Olympic sports.

The History and Origin of Nordic Combined

The origin of Nordic combined can be traced back to Norway. During winter, the people skied to chase game animals, to enhance their social interaction, and to search for firewood. Holmenkollen Ski Festival which began in 1892 also made skiing more popular. The main attraction of the festival was Nordic combined. The festival became popular, attracting participants from Sweden and other neighboring countries. In fact, the festival became so popular King Olav V of Norway participated in it in 1920.

Nordic combined was first recognized as a Winter Olympic sport in 1924. The first competition involved 18-km cross-country skiing followed by ski-jumping. During the competitions, cross-country was the first to be conducted, followed by ski jumping. However, in the 1952 Winter Olympics, it was reversed with ski jumping being the first followed by cross-country skiing. The cross-country skiing was also reduced to 15km from 18km at the 1956 Winter Olympics because it was realized that the difference was too big to manage the ski jumping.

The Rules of Nordic Combined

There are individual events and team events also known as relay competition. The relay teams comprise of four athletes and each athlete skis for 5km before handing over to the next athlete. In the individual events, the athletes are supposed to ski for 10km before getting to the finish line. The ski jumping race takes place before the cross-country skiing. For individual normal races, a normal hill of (K98) is used. For relay competitions or large individual competition, a large hill of (K125) is used. The jumpers’ points are given depending on the distance jumped by the athlete. The jumpers’ points are given on a scale of 0-20 by a group of five judges. Depending on the strength or direction of the wind, the judges can add or subtract points from the score of athletes. Gate scores might also affect the athlete's final score; points may be added for a high gate start and deducted for a low gate start.

Nordic Combined Accidents

Frequent accidents can occur during the racing that causes injuries to the athletes. The most common injury is dental injuries. Other injuries sustained were on the limbs, lips, torso, nose, and jaws. Ski jumping can be particularly dangerous and has occasionally caused death. During ski jumping, the strong and unpredictable wind has been known to be capable of making athletes lose control. Among the athletes who sustained serious injuries due to strong wind are Akimoto, Findeisen, Berg, and Goldbergers. Even some of the most experienced athletes can sustain injuries. Some of the deaths recorded from ski jumping are those of Sonny Bono and Natasha Richardson.

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