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.
Ski jumping is such a sport where, competitor’s aerial style and other factors also affect the final score. Ski jumping was first contested in Norway in the late 19th century, and later spread through Europe and North America in the early 20th century. Along with cross-country skiing, it constitutes the traditional group of Nordic skiing disciplines.
The ski jumping venue, commonly referred to as a hill, consists of the jumping ramp (in-run), take-off table, and a landing hill. Each jump is evaluated according to the distance traveled and the style performed. The distance score is related to the construction point (also known as the K-point), which is a line drawn in the landing area and serves as a “target” for the competitors to reach.
The score of each judge evaluating the style can reach a maximum of 20 points. The jumping technique has evolved over the years, from jumps with the parallel skis with both arms pointing forwards, to the “V-style”, which is widely used today.
A ski jumping hill is located on a steep slope, and it consists of the jumping ramp (in-run), take-off table, and a landing hill. Competitors glide down from a common point at the top of the in-run, achieving considerable speeds at the take-off table, where they take off with help of speed and their own leap. While airborne, they maintain an aerodynamic position with their bodies and skis, that would allow them to maximize the length of the jump. The landing slope is constructed so that the jumper’s trajectory is near-parallel with it, and the athlete’s relative height to the ground is gradually lost, allowing for a gentle and safe landing. The landing space is followed by an out-run, a substantial flat or counter-inclined area that permits the skier to safely slow down. The out-run area is fenced and surrounded by a public auditorium.
Competitors are ranked according to a numerical score obtained by adding up components based on distance, style, inrun length (gate factor) and wind conditions. In the individual event, the scores from each skier’s two competition jumps are combined to determine the winner.
Distance score depends on the hill’s K-point. For K-90 and K-120 competitions, the K-point is set at 90 meters and 120 meters, respectively. Competitors are awarded 60 points (normal and large hills) and 120 points (flying hills) if they land on the K-point. For every meter beyond the K-point, the competitor is awarded extra points; the typical value is 2 points per meter in small hills, 1.8 points in large hills and 1.2 points in ski flying hills. A competitor’s distance is measured between the takeoff and the point where the feet came in full contact with the landing slope (for abnormal landings, touchpoint of one foot, or another body part is considered). Jumps are measured with accuracy of 0.5 meters for all competitions. 64–65
During the competition, five judges are based in a tower to the side of the expected landing point. They can award up to 20 points each for jumping style, based on keeping the skis steady during flight, balance, optimal body position, and landing. The highest and lowest style scores are disregarded, with the remaining three scores added to the distance score.
Gate and wind factors were introduced by the 2009 rules, to allow fairer comparison of results for a scoring compensation for variable outdoor conditions. Aerodynamics and take-off speed are important variables that affect the jump length, and if weather conditions change during a competition, the conditions will not be the same for all competitors. Gate factor is an adjustment made when the inrun (or start gate) length is adjusted from the initial position in order to provide optimal take-off speed. Since higher gates result in higher take-off speeds, and therefore present an advantage to competitors, points are subtracted when the starting gate is moved up, and added when the gate is lowered. An advanced calculation also determines compensation points for the actual unequal wind conditions at the time of the jump. These points are added or withdrawn from the original scores of the individual jump according to the wind conditions; when there is back wind, the points are added, and when there is front wind, the points are subtracted. Wind speed and direction are measured at five different points based on average value, which is determined before every competition.
If two or more competitors finish the competition with the same number of points, they are given the same placing and receive same prizes. Ski jumpers below the minimum safe body mass index are penalized with a shorter maximum ski length, reducing the aerodynamic lift they can achieve. These rules have been credited with stopping the most severe cases of underweight athletes, but some competitors still lose weight to maximize the distance they can achieve. In order to prevent an unfair advantage due to a “sailing” effect of the ski jumping suit, material, thickness and relative size of the suit are regulated.
Each jump is divided into four parts: in-run, take-off (jump), flight, and landing.
By using the V-style, firstly pioneered by Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklöv in the mid-1980s, modern skiers are able to exceed the distance of the take-off hill by about 10% compared to the previous technique with parallel skis. Previous techniques included the Kongsberger technique, the Däescher technique and the Windisch technique. Until the mid-1960s, the ski jumper came down the in-run of the hill with both arms pointing forwards. This changed when the Däscher technique was pioneered by Andreas Däscher in the 1950s, as a modification of the Kongsberger and Windisch techniques. A lesser-used technique as of 2017 is the H-style which is essentially a combination of the parallel and V-styles, in which the skis are spread very wide apart and held parallel in an “H” shape. It is prominently used by Domen Prevc.
Skiers are required to touch the ground in the Telemark landing style, named after the Norwegian county of Telemark. This involves the landing with one foot in front of the other with knees slightly bent, mimicking the style of Telemark skiing. Failure to execute a Telemark landing leads to the deduction of style points, issued by the judges.
Ski jumping at the Winter Olympics:
Ski jumping has been included in the program of every Winter Olympic Games. From 1924 through to 1956, the competition involved jumping from one hill whose length varied from each edition of the games to the next.
Most historians have placed this length at 70 meters and have classified this as the large hill. In 1960, the ski jump hill was standardized to 80 meters. In 1964, a second ski jump, the normal hill at 70 meters (K90) was added along with the 80 meters (K120) large hill. The length of the large hill run in 1968 increased from 80 meters to 90 meters (K120). The team large hill event was added in 1988. By 1992, the ski jumping competitions were referred by their K-point distances rather than their run length prior to launching from the ski jump (90 meters for the normal hill and 120 meters for the large hill, respectively) and have been that way ever since. For the 2006 Winter Olympics, the normal hill was designated as HS106 (K95) while the large hill was designated as HS140 (K125).
On April 6, 2011, the International Olympic Committee officially accepted women’s ski jumping into the official Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. On February 11, 2014, Carina Vogt of Germany won the first gold medal for women’s ski jumping at the Winter Olympic Games.
Men – Large hill individual, Normal hill individual, Large hill team
Women – Normal hill individual
Mixed – Normal hill, team
Matti Nykänen of Finland with 5 medals (4 Gold & 1 Silver), followed by Simon Ammann of Switzerland 4 medals (all Gold), Jens Weißflog of Germany with 4 medals (3 Gold & 1 Silver), Thomas Morgenstern of Austria with 4 medals (3 Gold & 1 Silver), Kamil Stoch of Poland with 4 medals (3 Gold & 1 Bronze).
Norway leading the all-time medal table with 35 combined medals including 11 Gold, followed by Finland 22 combined medals including 10 Gold and Austria 25 combined medals including 6 Gold.