What’s a ski jump?

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Ski jumping is a popular winter sport that originated in Norway in 1862. It is dominated by male performers, but women also compete. Skiers are evaluated based on distance, style, and landing. The technique has evolved, and wind conditions can affect performance. The sport is popular in Northern Europe and Japan, but there are exceptions, such as Mike Holland of the USA who set a world record in 1985.

It’s quite amazing to watch a person ski jumping, as he flies off a huge ramp and stays in the air, bent almost parallel to the position of the skis before landing in the snow many feet below the take-off point. Combining great athleticism, daring and physical strength, ski jumping remains a popular winter sport, especially in Northern Europe and Japan. Both the annual World Cup and Olympic Ski Jumping competitions are held and offer fascinating viewing.

Norwegians held the first ski jumping competition in 1862, only because ski jumping originated as a sport in Norway. Today the races are held all over the world, mainly during the winter. The sport has historically been mainly dominated by male performers, although there are some notable female jumpers. Now both men and women compete in the International Ski Federation’s Ski Jumping World Cup.

The distance of the ski jump can vary, depending on the competition. Measured as the distance from takeoff to point K, this will generally be 295.28 feet (90m) or 229.66 feet (70m). These hills slope about 30 degrees and skiers reach speeds of about 55.93 mph (90 km/h) before making the downward leap.

Skiers are evaluated based on several factors. They have to reach the marked destination point, called point K. Landing beyond point K gives them higher scores, and landing before it reduces their score. Style can be awarded up to 20 points by each judge and considers form in the air and landing. A skier who fails to land a jump scores few style points. Most competitions allow the skier two runs for a combined score. Another interesting competition combines ski jumping and cross-country running, called the Nordic combined.

The technique of ski jumping is very different from when the sport was born. At first the jumpers kept their skis parallel. In the 1980s it was discovered that when the skis were held in a slight V shape with the tips pointing outward, longer jumps could be achieved. Even today’s best athletes can perform poorly depending on how the wind blows. The wind blowing behind you means there is no way to “ride the wind”. So many skiers prefer a light wind blowing towards them.

Today, ski jumping is still dominated by athletes from Northern Europe and Japan, where the sport remains the most popular. However, there are some exceptions. Mike Holland of the USA set a distance world record in 1985 which he held for 27 minutes before a Finnish skier broke the record.

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