2014 Winter Olympics

Winter Olympics: Ski Jumping

Once a popular attraction at ski carnivals

by Beth Rowen
Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards

Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards

Related Links

Memorable Moments

Did You Know?

The youngest male athlete to win an Olympic gold medal was 16-year-old Toni Nieminen of Finland, who won the large hill ski jumping event at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

Ski jumping was born in Norway, the country that has given us practically all of our Nordic skiing events. A popular attraction at ski carnivals in the mid-1800s, the first official ski jumping competition was held in Norway in 1872. Norwegian immigrants brought ski jumping to America just before the turn of the century.

The large-hill ski jumping competition has appeared at every Olympic Winter Games since 1924. Although its height has changed through the years, the hill has been fixed at 120 meters (394 ft) since the 1992 Winter Games.

The normal-hill event was introduced in 1964. Its height was set at 70 meters (230 ft) and remained so until 1992, when it was moved up to its current height of 90 meters (295 ft).

Jumpers compete in three events: individual normal hill, individual large hill, and team (which is contested on the large hill).

Each athlete attempts two jumps. Landings are videotaped for exact measuring purposes, and points are awarded based on the length of the jump. Longer jumps are awarded more points than shorter ones.

A panel of five judges rates each athlete's style on a scale from 0–20. The lowest and highest scores are dropped, making 60 a perfect score.

The skier, or team of skiers, with the highest combined total of distance points and style points is awarded the gold medal.

After years of barring women ski jumpers from the Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee announced in April 2011 that women would finally be allowed to compete, beginning in 2014 in Sochi. Women will vie for medals in the individual normal hill event. They are still denied the chance to participate in the large-hill and team events. With the inclusion of women's ski jumping, Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing) remains the only event that lacks female competitors. In reversing itself, the IOC said that there were enough elite athletes in the sport to merit inclusion in the Games. "There is much more quality than there was two years ago," said Christophe Dubi, sports director of the IOC.

It was a long-fought victory. Fourteen women ski jumpers seeking to compete at the 2010 Games sued the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC), claiming that their rights had been violated under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While the British Columbia Supreme Court agreed in a July 10, 2009, ruling that the women were being discriminated against, Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon stated that the court's hands were tied—the decision about inclusion was up to the IOC and neither the IOC nor VANOC are subject to the laws of the land. The jumpers appealed the court's decision. After two days of legal arguments, on Nov. 13, 2009, Judge Anne Rowles of the British Columbia Court of Appeal had these four words, "The appeal is dismissed."

Lindsey Van, the 2009 world champion, hopes to win the first gold medal in the event. Also watch out for Sarah Hendrickson, who won nine out of 12 world cup events in 2012, and Jessica Jerome, the first women to officially make the team. For the men, first-time Olympian Nicholas Fairall hopes to leave his mark on the sport. Veterans Anders Johnson and Peter Frenette are also strong contenders.

by Beth Rowen

More about the 2014 Winter Olympics

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The oldest president inaugurated was Reagan (age 69); the youngest was Kennedy (age 43).

what’s hot

  1. 10 Gender-Predicting Old Wives' Tales
  2. Top 10 Birthday Gifts for Teenagers (Ages 14-18)
  3. 6 Earliest Signs of Pregnancy


Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

8 Products to Help Your Family Go Plastic-Free
How can you minimize your family's exposure to harmful chemicals and lessen your impact on the environment? Try swapping out some of your everyday plastic products with these non-plastic alternatives.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks