After months of anticipation, the 2018 Winter Olympics have arrived. Until the games end on February 23rd, we’ll be able to watch our favorite winter sports like figure skating, snowboarding, and alpine skiing. But the Winter Olympics also provides us with a unique opportunity to learn about sports we’re less familiar with — like curling, for example. And another one of those lesser-known Olympic events is ski jumping.
What is ski jumping?
In Olympic ski jumping, skiers glide down a set of tracks known as an in-run. When skiers reach the flat “table” at the bottom of the in-run, they jump, trying to travel as far as possible. Each run happens quickly; from start to finish, a jump lasts about 10 seconds.
But jumps aren’t just scored based on distance. Skiers are also awarded up to 60 style points based on how fluid, precise, or striking a jump is. And if the wind isn’t blowing in a competitor’s favor, judges can award a jumper bonus points to account for difficulties.
So, when can you watch it?
Ski jumping was one of the first sports to begin competition during this year’s games. Men’s and women’s individual normal hill competitions began on February 7th and 8th, but medals will be awarded on February 10th for men and February 12th for women. The next events will take place on February 10th, and competitions will finish on February 19th with the men’s team event.
Just how far can skiers jump?
The record for longest ski jump in history is currently held by Austrian skier Stefan Kraft. During the 2017 FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Vikersund, Norway, the 23-year-old Kraft jumped 253.5 meters (almost 832 feet), beating the previous record of 252 meters.
What else is there to know?
The first ski jump was constructed in Norway in the 1860, and Norwegian immigrants brought the sport to the United States in the late 1800s. From the 1900s to the 1930s, jumping was even part of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. But despite the event’s long Olympic history, there was no Olympic ski jumping contest for women until the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Currently, women only compete in one event, while men compete in three: normal hill, large hill, and team.
We’re looking forward to watching this year’s Winter Olympics, including ski jumping. We’ll be cheering for all jumpers, but especially Team USA. Happy Olympics, everyone!