Ski jumping is a popular winter sport that was presented in all editions of the Winter Olympic Games from the inaugural games of 1924. Ski jumping involves skiing at high speed on a steep slope, usually on an artificial hill or natural (professionally known as “in-run”), and then jump off a take-off table and finally get off on a landing hill.
The origin of the ski jump dates back to 19 thcentury in the northern European countries. Olaf Rye was one of the first ski jumpers and is credited with making a 31-foot jump in 1808. Ingrid Olsdatter Vestby is credited as the first woman to participate in ski jumping, making her historic ski jump in 1863 in Norway. However, the modern ski jumping competition was established in the 19th century and Sondre Norheim was among the first professional ski jumpers. Sondre Norheim won the first ski jump competition in the world, held in 1866 at Hoydalsmo. However, the first major ski jumping competition took place on Husebyrennet Hill, Oslo in 1875. Sondre and another professional ski jumper, Karl Hovelsen, would later emigrate to the United States where they introduced the sport and developed it.
The jump in ski jumping aims to land with precision on a target on the landing hill known as “point k”. There are four distinct classes of hills whose main distinction is the “point-k” and these are small hills (k-point under 45 meters), medium hills (point-k between 45 and 74 meters), normal hills (point -k between 75 and 99 meters), wide hills (point-k under 100 meters) and hills that fly on skis (point-k over 170 meters). There are two main factors that influence the allowed scores 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 length of the run and the gate factory. Five officials judge the ski jumps on a tower located on the landing hill.
Ski jumping in the Winter Olympics
The ski jump was introduced at the Winter Olympic Games in the first edition of the 1924 games. Ski jumping is one of the winter sports that has been presented in all editions of the Winter Olympics since the inauguration of the 1924 Winter Olympics. The men’s big hill event was the only event in evidence during the first Winter Olympics and continued to be the only ski jumping event until the 1964 Winter Olympic Games, when the normal men’s event was introduced. The great hilly male event was added later and participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The only female ski jumping event in the Winter Olympic Games is the normal hilly female event that 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. United States, Switzerland, Norway and Poland jointly hold the record for the most numerous attendance of the event after 1924 with the four countries participants in the Winter Olympics 22. Finland has the highest number of Olympic medals in ski jumping, with a total of 22 medals; 10 of which are gold medals.