We have been away for a few days, to the beautiful island of Majorca and had to come back via Zurich where it was snowing. This morning, a beautiful clear day in Provence, we could see the southern Alps covered with snow. The radio told us that resorts like Isola 2000 and Auron had a 40cms of snow at the station and 80 cms at the top. Winter has arrived and many of these resorts will be opening the second week of December.
2010 is of course the year of the Winter Olympics which start in February in Vancouver, Canada. Many extreme sports are practised during the games – snowboarding in its various guises, skiing…..where do we stop, but we suggest that ski jumping must rank as one of the most extreme.
Men’s ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since the first Games in Chamonix, in 1924. The large hill competition was added for the Innsbruck 1964 Winter Games.
Above – Todd Loddwick of the United States – photo courtesy AP Photo/Matthias Rietschiel
There are now three medal events at the Olympics – the normal hill individual, the large hill individual and a team event. The format for the individual events is the same: there are 50 starters being the world’s top 15 ranked ski jumpers and 35 who will have qualified at the games. The first round whittles this number down to 35 jumpers who then jump again in reverse starting order to the distance jumped in the first round.
Competitors are evaluated on distance and style and while there is a very close relationship between the two, the skier with the longest jump will often have the highest style points. An exception to this can be found in the landing portion of the jump as long jumps can make landing in a controlled telemark position more difficult. The quality of landing can be a determining factor in deciding the finishing place when the distances are similar.
The team event is comprised of four athletes and there are two rounds of competition. In the first round, one skier from each team jumps. Then, the second skier from each team jumps. Then the third, followed by the fourth.
In the second round, only the top eight teams from the first round compete. Similar to the individual events, the less proficient jumpers go first and the best jumpers go last. The team with the highest total score over all eight jumps wins.
Norway heads the list of all time medal winners at the Winter Olympics, holding a total of 280 medals including 98 golds and in Vancouver it will be Anders Jacobsen who will be trying to take that total of golds to 100.
In the video below from Silosaft you can watch Jocobsen win at Innsbruck in 2007, narrowly beating Thomas Morgenstern of Austria.
Good luck to all competitors – perhaps this is one extreme sport that you could not practise in Majorca!