Fly like an eagle and become a ski jumping instant expert

Everything you need to know about the visually stunning sport

Fly like an eagle and become a ski jumping instant expert
Poland's Kamil Stoch is the defending Olympic champion in both the normal and large hill events. © Georg Hochmuth/AFP/Getty Images
By Benjamin Blum

​By Benjamin Blum, CBC Sports

Ski jumping has been a part of the Olympics from the very beginning and is about as straightforward as winter sports get: how far can you jump off this hill on skis? If you look closely, though, the techniques, equipment and even the jumps themselves have been evolving constantly to produce more awe-inspiring feats.

Here's everything you need to know to instantly become a ski jumping expert:

History and format

  • Originated in Norway in the 1800s
  • Men's event debuted at first Winter Olympics in 1924, women's introduced in 2014
  • Four events: men's large hill, men's and women's normal hill, men's team large hill

How the events work

In the men's normal and large hill events, the top 10 ski jumpers from the World Cup season earn an automatic berth in the finals, with 40 more chosen from a qualifying round at the Olympics. The finals are comprised of two rounds, with only the top 30 skiers moving on to the last round. Highest aggregate score from those two rounds wins.

The women's normal hill event consists of two rounds, with the highest total score winning. The team large hill event is also comprised of two rounds, with four skiers jumping for each country.

Ski jumpers are scored on distance and technique. Five judges critique the jumping style, with the highest and lowest scores ruled out and the middle three added to the distance score.

Brought to you by...

An easy way to explain ski jumping is by borrowing an old trope from Sesame Street.

So, ski jumping is brought to you by...

The letter K: As in K-point, which is an abbreviation for construction or calculation point (both words begin with a K in German.) Skiers are awarded 60 points if they land on the K-point, with additional points earned for landing past it and points deducted for landing short.


The K-point was also the original measurement for the size of the ski jumping hill, but was replaced by "hill size" in 2004. The normal hill size for the Olympics in Pyeongchang is 125 metres, while the large hill is 140m.

Ski jumping is also brought to you by...

The letter V: The V-style is the most popular technique used by jumpers today, named for the shape that the skis make while soaring through the air. Once it became approved by judges, it replaced previous parallel-ski styles as a safer method that also achieved longer distances.

Skiers also have to land with one foot in front of the other, also know as the Telemark landing style. If you have any more technical questions, please hold until the conclusion of this Goofy cartoon:


Musical pairs

Ski jumping is one of the most visually stunning sports at the Winter Games, but it's not exactly known for its aural intensity. Here are some thematically-appropriate songs to listen to while watching ski jumping:

Secrets to sounding smart

Still need more high-flying facts? Here are a few jumping-off points that'll really impress your friends:

  • Not your average skis. Ski jumping skis are Ionger (more than 2.5 metres), wider and heavier than normal skis. They also have free heel bindings, allowing the skiers to fully extend forward while in the air.
  • Stay on track. The top part of the ski jump — known as the in-run — has two ice-covered tracks for the jumpers' skis to glide down as they make their way to the jump itself.
  • Double trouble. At the last two Olympics, one man has won both the normal and large hill events: Switzerland's Simon Ammann in 2010 and Poland's Kamil Stoch in 2014.
  • The agony of defeat. Remember Wide World of Sports? Well, the nice folks at ABC used a clip of Slovenian skier Vinko Bogataj's 1970 crash in their intro for years, narrated by the legendary Jim McKay.

Events