Norwegian Nordic skier Sondre Norheim is credited with making the first officially measured ski jump, in 1860. The first ski jumping competition was held in Trysil, Norway, in 1862. The sport featured at ski carnivals in Norway in the mid 1800s and gained prestige in 1892 when the Norwegian royal family donated a trophy, which became known as the King’s Cup, to the winner of the annual contest in Holmenkollen.
Norwegian emigrants took the sport to the USA, where a competition was held for the first time in 1887.
Ski jumping from the large hill has been part of every Winter Olympics. The normal hill event was added at the 1964 Innsbruck Games and the team event at the Calgary Games in 1988.
Individual event, normal hill. Each competitor takes two jumps from the 90m hill. Jumps are marked on distance and style and the scores are added together to produce the final result. Five judges mark the jumpers for style, each starting from 20 points and deducting marks for errors. The highest and lowest judges’ scores are eliminated from the final total.
Individual event, large hill. Two jumps from the 120m hill.
Team event. Held on the large hill. Each of the four team members makes two jumps and all their scores are added together.
Fifty jumpers take part in the first round of the individual events. The 15 top-ranked jumpers on the World Cup circuit automatically gain entry, while the rest of the competitors take part in a qualifying round, with the best 35 making it through.
Only the top 35 skiers move on to the second and final round. They start in reverse order, with those who recorded the best jumps in the first round going last.
In the second round of the team event, only the top eight teams from the first round compete.
Individual, normal hill: Lars Bystol (Norway)
Individual, large hill: Thomas Morgenstern (Austria)
Team: Austria (Andreas Widhoelzl, Andreas Kofler, Martin Koch, Thomas Morgenstern)
Normal hill: Wolfgang Loitzl (Austria)
Large hill: Andreas Kuettel (Switzerland)
Team: Austria (Wolfgang Loitzl, Martin Koch, Thomas Morgenstern, Gregor Schlierenzauer)
The jumping will be held at the $120 million Olympic Park in Whistler, some 125 km north of Vancouver, which can accommodate 12,000 spectators. Organisers say the two hills have one of the world’s most sophisticated ski jump snow refrigeration systems.
The maximum flight distance of the large hill is 140m with a top take-off speed of 96 kph. The normal hill’s top flight distance is 106m with a top take-off speed of 89 kph.
Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, who at the age of just 20 has already won 31 World Cup individual events and two world team gold medals and is the reigning World Cup champion. This is his first Olympics.
Several veterans are also returning for one last try, including two notable 32-year-olds who have never won Olympic gold. One is Poland’s Adam Malysz - who has captured four World Cups and four world championships - and Finnish jumper Janne Ahonen, who has five world championship golds.