Ski jumping is a popular winter sport which has been featured in every edition of the Winter Olympic Games since the inaugural games in 1924. Ski jumping involves skiing at high speeds down a steep slope, usually on an artificial or natural hill (professionally known as an “in-run”), and then leaping from a take-off table and finally descending on a landing hill.
The origin of ski jumping dates back to the 19th century in the Nordic countries of Europe. Olaf Rye was one of the earliest ski jumpers and is credited for making a 31-foot jump in 1808. Ingrid Olsdatter Vestby is credited as the first woman to participate in ski jumping, making her historical ski jump in 1863 in Norway. However, modern ski jumping competition was established in the late 19th century and Sondre Norheim was among the first professional ski jumpers. Sondre Norheim won the world’s first ski jumping competition, held in 1866 in Hoydalsmo. However, the first large ski jumping competition took place in Husebyrennet hill, Oslo in 1875. Sondre and another professional ski jumper, Karl Hovelsen would later immigrate to the US where they introduced the sport and developed it.
The jump in ski jumping aims to accurately land on a target on the landing hill known as the “k-point.” There are four distinct classes of hills whose main distinction is the “k-point” and these are small hills (k-point below 45 meters), medium hills (k-point between 45 and 74 meters), normal hills (k-point between 75 and 99 meters), large hills (k-point below 100 meters) and ski flying hills (k-point over 170 meters). There are two main factors which influence the scores allowed and these are the distance traveled on the jump and the style used in the jump. Other factors include the wind conditions during the jump, the in-run length and the gate factory. Five officials judge the ski jumps on a tower located on the landing hill.
Ski Jumping in Winter Olympics
Ski jumping was introduced to the Winter Olympic Games in the first edition of the games in 1924. Ski jumping is one of the winter sports which have been featured in every edition of the Winter Olympics since the inaugural of Winter Olympics in 1924. The men’s large hill event was the only event featured in the first Winter Olympics and continued to be the sole event in ski jumping until the 1964 Winter Olympic Games when the men’s normal hill event was introduced. The men’s team large hill event was later added and has featured since the 1988 Winter Olympics. The sole female ski jumping event in the Winter Olympic Games is the women’s normal hill event which was introduced in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
A total of 11 nations and 40 athletes participated in the first ski jumping event of the 1924 Winter Olympic Games. The US, Switzerland, Norway, and Poland jointly hold the record for the most numerous appearances in the event since 1924 with the four countries participating in 22 Winter Olympics. Finland has the highest number of Olympic medals in ski jumping, with a total of 22 medals; 10 of which being gold medals.