Winter sports are competitive sports which are played on snow or ice. Most are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally, such games were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and artificial ice allow more flexibility.
Artificial ice can be used to provide ice rinks for ice skating, ice hockey, ringette, indoor broomball, bandy, rink bandy, rinkball, and sponge hockey in a milder climate. Common individual sports include cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, speed skating, figure skating, luge, skeleton, bobsleigh, ski orienteering and snowmobiling.
Common team sports include ice hockey, ringette, broomball (on either an indoor ice rink, or an outdoor ice rink or field of snow), curling, and bandy. Based on the number of participants, ice hockey is the world’s most popular winter team sport, followed by bandy.
Winter sports have their own multi-sport events, notable winter sporting events are Winter Olympic Games, Nordic Games, World Cup, Arctic Winter Games, Asian Winter Games, Winter Paralympic Games, Winter Universiade, Winter Dew Tour, Winter X Games, Winter X Games Europe.
Winter sports which are part of Olympic Winter Games are Ice skating – Figure skating, Short-track speed skating and Speed skating.
Skiing – Alpine skiing, Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Freestyle skiing, Mogul skiing, Nordic combined and Ski jumping.
Sledding – Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton.
Snowboarding – Alpine snowboarding, Boardercross, Slalom and Slopestyle.
Team sports – Curling and Ice hockey.
Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
Formats and variations:
Individual Gundersen: competition starts with one competition jump from a normal or large hill. Later on the same day, the 10 km (6.21 mi) cross-country race takes place. The winner starts at 00:00:00 and all other athletes start with time disadvantages according to their jumping score. The first to cross the finish line is the winner. A variation of this is the Final Individual Gundersen, consisting of two jumps and 15 km (9.32 mi) of cross-country skiing in free technique.
Nordic Combined Triple: introduced in the 2013–14 FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, it features three different events on three days and one overall winner who is awarded extra World Cup points and prize money:
Day 1: 1 jump & 10 km (6.21 mi) Prologue
Day 2: 1 jump & 15 km (9.32 mi) Individual Gundersen (Top 50 from Day 1’s competition)
Day 3: 2 jumps & 20 km (12.43 mi) Final Individual Gundersen (Top 30 from Day 2’s competition)
Team Event: introduced in the 1980s, one team consists of four athletes who have one competition jump each. The total score of all four athletes determines the time disadvantages for the start of the ensuing 5 km (3.11 mi) cross-country race. The first team to cross the finish line wins.
Team Sprint: teams consist of two athletes each. In the ski jumping part, every athlete makes one competition jump like in the Individual Gundersen or Team Event formats and the time behind for the start of the successive cross-country race. The team to arrive first at the finish line wins the competition.
Included in the rules but currently not used in World Cup:
Penalty Race: instead adding a time disadvantage, distance is added to the cross-country part.
Mass Start: the only format in which the cross-country part takes place before the ski jumping. All competitors start into a 10 km (6.21 mi) cross-country race in free technique at the same time. The final cross-country times are then converted into points for the ski jumping part. The winner is determined in a points-based system.
Ski bindings: secure only the toe of the boot to the ski. In cross-country, it must be placed so that not more than 57% of the entire ski length is used as the front part. In jumping, a cord or aluminum post attaches the heel of the boot to the ski to prevent tips from dropping and/or wobbling of skis during flight.
For jumping, a high-backed, flexible yet firm boots with a low cut at the front, designed to allow the skier to lean forward during flight.
For cross-country a skating boot is used.
Ski suit and helmet
Skis: jumping skis may have a length of a maximum 145% of the total body height of the competitor. Cross-country skis may be up to 2 meters long.
Ski wax: glide wax for speed is used in both types, and kick wax is used in cross-country.
Nordic combined at the Winter Olympics:
The Nordic combined events have been contested at the Winter Olympic Games since 1924. The first competition involved 18 km cross-country skiing, followed by ski jumping. It was decided in early-November 2016 that women’s competitions were to be established at the Olympic Winter Games in 2022.
Whoever earned the most points from both competitions won the event. At the 1952 Winter Olympics, the ski jumping was held first, followed by 18 km cross-country skiing. The cross-country skiing portion was reduced to 15 km at the 1956 Winter Olympics. The ski jumping styles would change over the years as well, from the Kongsberger technique after World War I to the Daescher technique in the 1950s to the current V-style from 1985 onwards.
The cross-country skiing technique would switch from classical to freestyle for all competitions beginning in 1985. At the 1988 Winter Olympics the Gundersen method was adopted, meaning the 15 km cross country portion would go from an interval start race to a pursuit race, so that whoever crossed the finish line first won the event.
The team event with a 3 x 10 km cross country relay started at the 1988 Winter Olympics, changing to the current 4 x 5 km cross-country relay at the 1998 Winter Olympics. The 7.5 km sprint event was added at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Nordic combined remains a men’s only event as of the 2010 Winter Olympics. For the 2010 Winter Games, the 15 km Individual Gundersen which consisted of 2 jumps from the normal hill followed by 15 km cross country will be replaced by a 10 km individual normal hill event which will consist of one jump from the individual normal hill following by 10 km of cross country using the Gundersen system while the 7.5 km sprint will be replaced by the 10 km individual large hill event.
Events (All Men’s):
10 km individual normal hill
10 km individual large hill
4 x 5 km team (3 x 10 km: 1988–94)
10 km individual normal hill:
Known as the 18 km/ 15 km Individual Gundersen from 1924 to 2006, this event involved two jumps from the ski jumping normal hill. Since 2006, any one point difference between competitors in the ski jump represents 4 seconds between them at the start of the cross-country part of the competition. For the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the event has been changed to only one jump from the ski jumping normal hill followed by 10 km of cross country skiing using the Gundersen system. Point-time differentials for previous Olympics are as follows: 1988–1992 – 1 pt = 6.7 seconds, 1994 – 1 pt = 6.5 seconds, 1998 – 1 pt = 6 seconds, 2002 – 1 pt = 5 seconds.
10 km individual large hill:
Formerly known as the 7.5 km sprint, it consisted of only one jump from the large hill followined by 7.5 km of cross country skiing using the Gundersen system. Starting at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the cross country distance will be lengthened to 10 km. It follows the same point-time differential as the 10 km individual normal hill event.
4 x 5 km team (3 x 10 km: 1988–94):
This involves each team taking one jump from the ski jumping large hill. For each one point difference between teams at the ski jump, there are 1.33 seconds between them at the start of the cross country skiing part of the competition. Point-time differentials for previous Olympics are as follows: 1988–1994 – 1 pt = 5 seconds, 1998 – 1 pt = 3 seconds, 2002 – 1 pt = 1.5 seconds, 2006 – 1 pt = 1 second.
Multiple Medal Winners:
Felix Gottwald of Austria won 7 medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze), Eric Frenzel of Germany won 6 medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) and Samppa Lajunen of Finland won 5 medals (3 gold, 2 silver).
The sport has been dominated by the Norwegians, supported by the Finns. It was not until 1960 that the Nordic grip on this discipline was broken when West German Georg Thoma won the gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Norway is leading the all-time medal table with 31 medals including 13 gold, folloed by Germany 14 medals including 5 gold and Finland 14 medals including 4 gold.