Category Archives: Ski jumping

Medals changing hands after the Olympics

The Australian Athletics Federation is looking to overturn Olympic results from 1948 and 1980. It hopes to help Shirley Strickland to a bronze medal in the 1948 200 m and Ian Campbell to a gold in the 1980 triple jump. Although it’s not very likely that they will be successful, medal changes years after the fact are not without precedent in Olympic history. In fact, even if the 1948 result changes 67 years after the fact, it wouldn’t even be a record.

We’ve made a compilation of occasions in Olympic history when the medal results changed at least a month after the end of the Games. All doping related cases have been excluded – they warrant an article of their own.

1904

All Olympic record books list the silver medallist in the 1904 lightweight boxing event as Jack Egan (sometimes spelled Eagan). He lost the final on decision to Harry Spanjer, while Russell Van Horn took third place. But more than a year later, Egan was discovered to have been fighting under an alias. This was not uncommon at the time, as many more wealthy citizens did not want to be associated with sports. Egan’s real name was Frank Floyd, and he came from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. While this may not seem serious, by the rules of the AAU it was illegal to fight under an assumed name, a so-called ringer. In November 1905, the AAU decided that Egan would be disqualified from all AAU competitions, and he would have to return his prizes. The Atlantic Association that had knowingly accepted Floyd’s application as Egan was also expelled from the AAU.

This late decision to revise the Olympic results in this event has, as far as we know, never been published since the events in 1905, and was only rediscovered in 2008 by Taavi Kalju (a member of the OlyMADMen, just like the authors of this blog). More than 100 years after the fact, Peter Sturholdt can be recognized as a new Olympic medallist – all the more remarkable considering he never won a single fight.

1912

The star athlete of the 1912 Olympics was American Jim Thorpe. He had overwhelmingly won both the pentathlon and the decathlon events.  The King of Sweden gave him his gold medals and told him, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

In early 1913, it was revealed that Thorpe had played minor league baseball in the United States. For this he was retroactively declared a professional by the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and the IOC and his records at the 1912 Olympics were declared void. He had to return his gold medals. What is not so well known is that Thorpe should never have been disqualified in the first place.

An all-round athlete, Thorpe also played professional football, baseball and basketball

Over the years numerous attempts were made to get the IOC to reverse the decision, mostly started by Thorpe’s children. Some efforts succeeded gradually. In 1973, the AAU restored Thorpe’s amateur status for the years 1909-1912. This was followed in 1975 by the United States Olympic Committee making a similar restoration.

In 1982, the Thorpe family, aided by Bob Wheeler, one of Thorpe’s biographers, and his wife, Florence Ridlon, succeeded in their long struggle to have Jim Thorpe’s medals restored by the International Olympic Committee. It was revealed in Sports Illustrated that a key factor in this decision was a discovery by Ridlon, who found a pamphlet in the Library of Congress which gave the rules and regulations for the 1912 Olympic Games. It stated that the statute of limitations for a claim against any Olympic athlete’s eligibility in 1912 had to have been made within 30 days after the awarding of the prizes. The announcement of Thorpe’s professional baseball career occurred in January 1913. Thus it was almost six months after the end of the Olympics and his disqualification was completely unwarranted.

On 27 February 1982, Wheeler and Ridlon founded The Jim Thorpe Foundation, expressly for the purpose of moving to have his medals and honors restored. On 13 October 1982, only eight months after the formation of The Jim Thorpe Foundation, but fully 70 years too late, the IOC Executive Board approved, in a sense, the restoration of Jim Thorpe’s medals, declaring him co-winner with Sweden’s Hugo Wieslander (decathlon) and Norway’s Ferdinand Bie (pentathlon). At a meeting of the IOC Executive Board, this time on 18 January 1983 in Los Angeles, commemorative medals were presented to Bill and Gail Thorpe, two of Thorpe’s children.

1924

The inaugural Olympic ski jumping competition ended with a clean sweep for the Norwegians – or so it seemed.

Anders Haugen – Olympic medallist after 50 years.

Almost 40 years later, Thoralf Strømstad – a silver medallist in the cross country and Nordic combined at the 1924 Games – contacted Norwegian ski historian Jacob Vaage, claiming that the points from the ski jumping event for Thorleif Haug had been miscalculated, and that his final points should be behind Haugen’s. Vaage checked the case and had to agree with the 77-year-old Strømstad. In 1974 IOC decided to award the bronze medal to Haugen, at that time an elderly gentleman of 86. He was invited to Norway, and at a nice ceremony Haug’s bronze medal from 1924 was handed over to Haugen by Haug’s youngest daughter. Thorleif Haug himself died already in December 1934 from pneumonia at the age of 40. But Haugen was pleased to meet some of his Norwegian competitors from 1924: Narve Bonna, Einar Landvik and also Thoralf Strømstad, the man responsible for justice being made after 40 years.

1952

America’s Ed Sanders created carnage in the heavyweight boxing division in Helsinki as he battered his way to the final with three brutal knockout victories. His opponent in the final, Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson, appeared to be completely intimidated by the American’s reputation and spent most of the fight backpedalling around the ring. When Sanders did get into range Johansson would simply grab hold of his opponent. Eventually an increasingly irate referee grew tired of warning the Swede and disqualified him for “not trying”. This also had the effect of denying Johansson his silver medal and the second step on the podium remained vacant.

Ingemar Johansson, who waited almost three decades to receive his silver medal.

Johansson did become a household name as a professional when he became the first European to win the World Heavyweight Championship for over 20 years after knocking out Olympic champion Floyd Patterson. In 1982, 30 years after his Olympic embarrassment, Johansson was finally awarded his silver medal after the IOC were persuaded to reverse their decision.

But Johansson was not the only boxer from 1952 to receive his medal late. In 1950, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) had decided to eliminated the bronze medal match, having the losing finalists place an equal third. This was accepted by the IOC, on condition that they would not receive a bronze medal. This is indeed what happened in Helsinki.

But 1970, the president of the Finnish Boxing Association brought up the subject with AIBA, noting the absence of bronze medals in the boxing events to be an injustice. The AIBA President, Rudyard Russell, concurred and contacted the IOC. They received approval for the matter through IOC director Monique Berlioux, although no formal decision was made during an IOC Session. Six of the 20 losing semi-finalists received the medal in a ceremony in Finland on 2-3 April 1970, while the others received theirs in the mail.

1964

The pair’s competition at the Innsbruck figure skating was won by the Soviet husband-wife pair of Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov, beating the favored German pair of Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler. Shortly after the Innsbruck Olympics, it was revealed that Kilius/Bäumler had signed a professional contract prior to the event to perform with Holiday on Ice. This should have disqualified them as professionals, but strangely no definite action was initially taken against them by the IOC or the International Skating Union.

Kilius and Bäumler (left) at the 1964 medal ceremony

A few weeks later they won the World Championships, defeating Belousova and Protopopov. It was felt that the West German Olympic Committee, lobbying the IOC for the 1972 Olympic bid, wanted to present themselves in the best possible manner and encouraged the German skaters to return their medals. The IOC formed a special sub-committee to examine the case, and the minutes of the Executive Committee note, “A special sub-committee under Ivar Vind had studied the case of the German figure skaters. They had been found ‘non-amateurs’. Willi Daume said that ‘The German NOC will do what is necessary.’

At the 65th IOC session the IOC passed a resolution, which was printed in the Olympic Review, volume 95, page 39, from 15 August 1966 which stated, “We have received the silver medals back, and we will award them to the original third-place finishers. The bronze medals will be awarded to the original fourth-place finishers.” In January 1966, Kilius/Bäumler returned their silver medals to the IOC. Silver medals were awarded to Wilkes and Revell by Canadian IOC Member James Worrall during the 1967 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, while the Josephs received bronze medals from USOC President Tug Wilson at a small private ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago, during the 1966 USA Figure Skating Championships. However, no action was ever taken by the ISU, who continued to list Kilius/Bäumler as silver medalists and World Champions in 1964.

However, the controversy did not end there. In 1987, the German NOC rather surreptitiously requested the return of the silver medals to Kilius and Bäumler, which was in keeping with the ISU ruling as well. They asked the IOC to do this, stating that it was known that other skaters had signed similar contracts in that era. At the 1987 IOC Session in Istanbul, the IOC approved this request and the Germans received new silver medals on 5 December 1987, when German NOC president Willi Daume presented replicas of the originals to Kilius and Bäumler on the German television show “Sportstudio”.

Contacted in the late 90s, Debbi Wilkes and Vivian Joseph knew nothing of this, and still thought the German pair had been disqualified. Wilkes and Revell kept their silver medals, in fact, Revell’s medal was buried with him after his death, and the Josephs kept their bronze medals. Thus four silver medals were eventually awarded in this event. The IOC lists did not change the standings for many years, but recognizing that two sets of silver medals have been awarded in this event, now list Kilius/Bäumler and Wilkes/Revell as =2nd and as silver medalists, and have the Josephs in 3rd place with bronze medals. The ISU has never changed the original rankings, continuing to list Kilius/Bäumler 2nd, Wilkes/Revell 3rd, and the Josephs 4th.

1968

In a similar case to the 1952 boxing, American featherweight Al Robinson was disqualified in the final against home fighter Antonio Roldán. In a dubious decision, Robinson was disqualified for head butting. As in 1952, this officially ruled him out of a silver medal. However, US officials protested the decision and Robinson received the medal after returning home. He did not enjoy it for long, as he fell into a coma during training in 1971, and eventually died three years later.

1984

The women’s 100 m hurdles, severely hurt by the Soviet boycott, saw Benita Fitzgerald-Brown edge out Shirley Strong (GBR). Third-place was announced at first as a dead heat between Kim Turner (USA) and France’s Michele Chardonnet, but after reviewing photos of the finish, the judges reversed themselves and gave the bronze medal to Turner. But Chardonnet was not informed of this until she was standing on the infield awaiting the medal ceremony, and she left the field sobbing. The French Athletics Federation protested and 3½ months later the decision was reverted to a dead-heat. Chardonnet received her bronze medal six months after the Olympics ended.

Kim Turner (right) on her way to a shared bronze.

 

1992

Canadian Sylvie Fréchette, the 1991 World Champion and World Cup Champion was favored to win the women’s solo synchronized swimming event at the Barcelona Games. She was expected to be challenged by American Kristin Babb-Sprague, who was stronger in the freestyle final routine. Fréchette was expected to open a lead in the technical figures. But in that segment, Brazilian judge Maria de Silveira gave Fréchette an unaccountably low score of 8.7. De Silveira maintained that she had made a mistake and hit the wrong button, and meant to give her a score of 9.7. But the score could not be changed, per the FINA rules. The Canadians appealed the decision after the technical figures, but this was overturned 11-2, the two dissenting votes coming from the Canadian members of the Jury of Appeal. This let Babb-Sprague take the lead after the technical figures, and Fréchette was unable to overcome that lead, as Babb-Sprague seemingly won the gold medal.

Fréchette hugs Babb-Sprague from the silver medal section of the podium.

But that would not be the end of it. Dick Pound, powerful Canadian IOC Member, led a further appeal to have the results overturned. FINA eventually caved to the pressure and elected to declare Fréchette and Babb-Sprague as co-champions, and awarded Fréchette a gold medal in October 1993.

2000

Dong Fangxiao, who was only 14 years old at the time of the Sydney Olympics

 

As a member of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team at the Sydney Olympics, Dong Fangxiao earned a bronze medal. Eight years later, she was entered as an official for the Beijing Olympics. The birth information she used for that application – stating a birth year of 1986 – was different from the one used at the Sydney Games, when she claimed to have been born in 1983.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) launched an investigation, as a birth year of 1986 would have made Dong only 14 at the time of the Sydney Olympics, two years under the age limit of 16. The FIG concluded 1986 was Dong’s actual birth year, and disqualified her from the 2000 Games. The IOC went along with that verdict, and handed the bronze medal from the team all-around to the United States.

New Year’s Olympic Ski Jumping

The first major sports event in any year is the New Year’s Ski Jumping competition at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, part of the prestigious annual Four Hills Tournament. It’s Olympic connections go back all the way to 1922.

Birger Ruud jumps to Olympic gold in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Earlier that year he had also won the New Year’s competition.

On January 1st, 1922, the first New Year’s Ski Jumping competition was held in Garmisch – this was a separate town until it was forcibly merged with Partenkirchen for the 1936 Winter Olympics. It was part of a national German Olympic Games (Deutsche Winterkampfspiele), as Germany was not permitted to take part in the Olympic Games due to its role in World War I. Only at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz would Germany appear again at the Olympic stage. The jumping hill built for this occasion was used for a competition on January 1st, which was to become an annual tradition. When Garmisch-Partenkirchen was awarded the Winter Olympics of 1936, a new jumping hill was built, which was inaugurated in February 1934, and has been used for the New Year’s event since. It has been renovated several times, in 1950, 1978 and 2007, and is still used in competition today. The event became part of the Four Hills Tournament in 1953, the first edition of that tournament, and has been ever since. The other competitions are held in Oberstdorf (Germany), Innsbruck and Bischofshofen (Austria). Garmisch-Partenkirchen joined Munich in a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the IOC elected South Korean Pyeongchang instead.

Jens Weißflog won 4 times at Garmisch, and also earned 3 Olympic golds, two of them in Lillehammer 1994 (shown here).

Among the winners of the New Year’s Ski Jump have – naturally – been a lot of Olympians. In fact, all winners since Paavo Lukkariniemi in 1966 have competed at the Olympics. The person with the most wins is Germany’s Martin Neuner with five (1924-1928), and in his only Olympic appearance (1928), he placed 9th. Two Germans have won four times on January 1st: Sepp Weiler, who only attended the 1952 Olympics as he was blocked from competing in 1948 and Jens Weißflog. Weißflog won at Garmisch in 1984-85, in 1990 and, jointly, in 1992. In 1984 he also won a gold medal, adding two more in 1994.

Winners in Garmisch didn’t always do well at the Olympics – e.g. three-time winner Bjørn Wirkola (1967-69), but since the mid-80s, all but a handful of winners have won at least one Olympic medal. On 9 occasions did the winner of the New Year’s Jump also win Olympic gold, although the last two times (2002 and 2010) this was in the team competition rather than an individual event.

Year Ski jumper Country
1936 Birger Ruud Norway
1964 Veikko Kankkonen Finland
1972 Yukio Kasaya Japan
1984 Jens Weißflog East Germany
1988 Matti Nykänen Finland
1994 Espen Bredesen Norway
1998 Kazuyoshi Funaki Japan
2002 Sven Hannawald Germany
2010 Gregor Schlierenzauer Austria

The 2014 podium, with Austrian winner Thomas Diethart.

The winner of the 1962 competition was Georg Thoma of Germany. Two years earlier, he had won a gold medal, but not in ski jumping, but in the Nordic combined (which combines ski jumping with cross country skiing), becoming the first non-Scandinavian to win that title.

USA Sports Factsheets – the Nordic Sports

And here is the next-to-last set of USA related sports factsheets, this time for the four Nordic sports of cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, and ski jumping. Tomorrow, we’ll finish up the USA sports factsheets with the team sports of curling and ice hockey. Later this week, now that the sports quotas have closed (19 Jan), we will start giving National Factsheets for the competing nations at Sochi.

Perfect Ski Jumping Scores

In 1998 at Nagano, Japanese ski jumper Kazuyoshi Funaki took off on his second jump on the large hill, and did something that had never been done before at the Olympics. Funaki was given a set of five marks of 20.0 for style points. This had only been achieved once before in international competition, by Austrian Toni Innauer in a ski flying meet at Oberstdorf, Germany in March 1976.

Since Funaki’s jump, only three other jumpers have been given a perfect set of 20.0 style points in any international event – Sven Hannawald (GER) and Hideharu Miyahira (JPN) in the same World Cup large hill event at Willingen in February 2003, and Austrian Wolfgang Loitzl in the Four Hills tournament at Bischofen in January 2009.

At the Olympics, two others jumpers have been awarded three scores of 20.0 for a single jump, both achieving a style score of 59.5 – Norwegian Espen Bredesen in 1994 on the normal hill, and Austrian Andreas Kofler on the large hill in 2006.

Funaki actually was given perfect 20s a total of 9 times at the Winter Olympics – his perfect jump in 1998, with 5 20s, his first jump on the normal hill also in 1998, and his first jump on the large hill in 1998, both with 2 20s and style scores of 59.0. Bredesen was the recipient of perfect scores 6 times – with two 20s given to him in the 1994 team event, and a single 20 on his second jump on the large hill in 1994.

Other jumpers who were awarded perfect 20s multiple times include Finland’s Janne Ahonen with 3 20s, Japan’s Noriaki Kasai with 3 20s, and Kofler, who was given a 4th 20 in the 2006 large hill qualifying round. Kasai, incidentally, has competed at 6 Winter Olympics in ski jumping, and is still competing and having his best season, winning a ski flying event in January 2014. He will be in Sochi, barring some unforeseen problem, and will set a record by appearing in his 7th Winter Olympics. This mark will also probably be achieved by Russian luger Albert Demchenko.

The entire list of perfect 20.0 style scores given at the Winter Olympics follows. This has been done 21 times, with 34 perfect 20.0 scores awarded.

5-20.0 Kazuyoshi Funaki (JPN,98LHJ2) (60.0/20,20,20,20,20)

3-20.0 Espen Bredesen (NOR,94NHJ1) (59.5/19.5,19.5,20,20,20)

3-20.0 Andreas Kofler (AUT,06LHJ1) (59.5/20,19.5,20,20,19.5)

2-20.0 Espen Bredesen (NOR,94TmJ2) (59.0/19.5,19.5,20,19.5,20)

2-20.0 Kazuyoshi Funaki (JPN,98NHJ1) (59.0/20,20,19.5,19.5,19.5)

2-20.0 Noriaki Kasai (JPN,98NHJ2) (59.0/19.5,20,19.5,20,19)

2-20.0 Andreas Widhölzl (AUT,98LHJ1) (59.0/20,19.5,19.5,20,19.5)

2-20.0 Kazuyoshi Funaki (JPN,98LHJ1) (59.0/19.5,20,19.5,19.5,20)

1-20.0 Noriaki Kasai (JPN,94NHJ1) (58.5/19,19.5,19.5,20,19.5)

1-20.0 Esp. Bredesen (NOR,94LHJ2) (58.5/19.5,19.5,19.5,19.5,20)

1-20.0 Andi Goldberger (AUT,94TmJ2) (58.5/19,19.5,19.5,20,19.5)

1-20.0 Janne Ahonen (FIN,98NHJ2) (58.5/19.5,20,19.5,19.5,19.5)

1-20.0 Masahiko Harada (JPN,98NHJ2) (58.5/19,19.5,19.5,20,19.5)

1-20.0 Andre. Widhölzl (AUT,98LHJ2) (58.5/19.5,20,19.5,19.5,19.5)

1-20.0 Janne Ahonen (FIN,98TmJ2) (58.5/19.5,19.5,19.5,20,19.5)

1-20.0 Simon Ammann (SUI,02TmJ2) (58.5/19.5,19.5,20,19,19.5)

1-20.0 Ths. Morgenstern (AUT,06LHJ2) (58.5/19.5,19.5,20,19,19.5)

1-20.0 Janne Ahonen (FIN,02NHJ2) (57.5/19.5,19,19,20,19)

1-20.0 Adam Małysz (POL,02NHJ2) (57.5/19,19,19,20,19.5)

1-20.0 Andreas Kofler (AUT,06LHQR) (58.5/19.5,19,19.5,19.5,20)

1-20.0 Roar Ljøkelsøy (NOR,06TmJ2) (58.5/19.5,19.5,20,19.5,19.5)

Note that most of these scores were given in 1994 and 1998 – the judges seem to have tightened up a bit, and no scores of 20.0 were given at Vancouver in 2010.

So does getting perfect style points guarantee you a victory or a medal? Not necessarily but it helps. In the above list Funaki won gold on the large hill in 1998 and Bredesen won the normal hill gold in 1994. But Andreas Kofler in 2006 lost out to his teammate, Thomas Morgenstern, and won “only” a silver medal. Janne Ahonen won two team silver medals, but his perfect scores never garnered him an individual medal. Kasai likewise never won an individual medal, his best finish a 5th on normal hill in 1994, but did get a silver in the 1994 team event.

We’ll have to see if the ski jumping judges in Sochi are tight or generous with their style points.

Ski Jumping Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic skiing consists of three major disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined, combining elements of both cross-country and ski jumping, all of which have been on the Olympic program since the Chamonix games of 1924. The IOC actually considers ski jumping a discipline within the sport of skiing.

Jumping off hills on skis was pioneered by Norwegian Sondre Norheim in the 19th century, and had developed into a full sport by the 20th century. It has been contested in the Olympic Winter Games since the start in 1924. Originally dominated by participants from Norway, the top competitors now also hail from Finland and Central Europe, with Japan having the best jumpers from Asia.

Three events are currently contested at the Olympics, all for men. Since 2009, women also compete in World Championships, but despite legal action to have the event included for the Vancouver Games, women did not compete in ski jumping in 2010. However, women’s ski jumping will be contested at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Through 1960, ski jumping at the Olympics had only a single event.  But Olympic ski jumping is now contested on two hills, usually termed the normal and large hill.  The size of the hill has varied over time, but those figures refer to the expected length of the jumps measured to the “norm” point of the hill, and not to the size of the hill.  The exact size of the hills, most commonly measured by the distance of the calculation point (or K-point), has gradually increased. In 1924, the normal hill K-point was at 71 m, while in 2010 it was at 95 m, and the large hill was at 125 m. From 1964-88, the hills were termed the 70 metre (normal) and 90 metre (large), but since 1992, they were often called the 90 and 120 metre hills. The current K-points have been 95 m and 125 m in 2006-14.  In the Olympics, a team event is also contested on the large hill.

Ski jumping is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosova, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Olympic Ski Jumping Hills

From 1924-60 there was one ski jumping event held at the Winter Olympics, termed the normal hill event. In 1964 a second competition on the large hill was added. In 1988 a team event on the large event became the third Olympic ski jumping event. Women will compete in ski jumping at the Olympics for the first time at Sochi in 2014, jumping off the normal hill.

But “normal” hill and “large” hill are not fixed definitions. The hills have varied significantly over the years and the hills have continued to get larger over time. The design of a ski jumping hill is complex with numerous tables and charts defining the mathematical analysis available in multiple sources.

Ski jumping hills are often defined by what is known as the K-point (for K/critical, or construction, point). Currently, a normal hill has a K-point of about 90 metres, while a large hill K-point is usually about 120 metres. But as you can see below, the last two Winter Olympics, and Sochi, have had slightly larger hills, at 95 and 125 metres, respectively.

The K-point defines the average point on the landing hill where the jumpers are expected to land, for maximum safety. It can actually be defined as the inflection point where the landing hill curvature changes from convex to concave.

There are also larger hills used, but not at the Olympics. These are termed ski flying hills, in which the K-point is at 180-185 metres, usually, although the largest hill is at Vikersund, Norway, with a K-point of 195 metres. Ski flyers often jump over 200 metres, with the current world best 246.5 metres (809 feet), set by Norwegian Johan Evensen on the Vikersund hill in February 2011.

In addition to the K-point, jumping hills used to be measured by Table Point, but this was usually within a few metres of the K-point and K-point was used more frequently. Table Point was introduced at the Olympics in 1972, but in 1984 Table Point and K-point became synonymous and Table Point is no longer used.

Another measurement now seen is called the Hill Size, which is larger than the K-point or Table Point. Hill Size is measured to the end of the landing area, or L-point, which is beyond the K-point. Another measurement that may be seen is called the Norm Point, which measures the distance to the P-point, or the beginning of the landing area, which is just above the K-point, usually approximately 80% of the distance to the K-point. The area between the P-point and the L-point, which includes the K-point, is basically the flat part of the landing area, where it is safe for the jumpers to land. See the accompanying diagram from the FIS rules, which also shows the complexity of the design of a ski jumping hill:

 

SkiJumpHills

 

There are occasions in ski jumping where the jumpers will start “out-jumping the hill.” This is when, because of ideal conditions of wind, snow, or ice, the jumpers start landing well-below the K-point, and especially below the L-point. If that happens, it can be dangerous for the jumpers because they are not coming down in the landing area, and the officials may stop the competition, and re-start it with a lower start on the jumping hill in-run.

The Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) uses Hill Size to define which events must be held at the Olympics and World Championships. “OWG [Olympic Winter Games] and WSC [World Ski Championships] jumping competitions shall be held on hills of two different sizes. A World or Olympic champion will be selected for each hill size. The smaller hill should have a Hill Size (HS) of at least 100 [m]. The difference between the hill sizes must be at least 25 m.” (see http://www.fis-ski.com/inside-fis/document-library/ski-jumping/, under link Ski Jumping, and then International Competition Rules, p. 66)

The FIS actually defines hills by Hill Size, with the current specifications as follows: 1) Small hill – up to 49 m; 2) Medium hill – 50-84 m; 3) Normal hill – 85-109 m; 4) Large hill – 110 m and larger (presumably up to 184 m); 5) Flying hill – 185 m and larger.

Below are the measurements of all the Olympic ski jumping hills since 1924:

Olympic Ski Jump Hills Specifications

Normal Hill

Year              K-Point      Table Point            Hill Size

1924              71.0 m                    —                     —

1928              66.0 m                    —                     —

1932              61.0 m                    —                     —

1936              80.0 m                    —                     —

1948              68.0 m                    —                     —

1952              72.0 m                    —                     —

1956              72.0 m                    —                     —

1960              80.5 m                    —                     —

1964              78.0 m                    —                     —

1968              70.0 m                    —                     —

1972              86.0 m             78.0 m                     —

1976              82.0 m             77.0 m                     —

1980              86.0 m             78.0 m              94.0 m

1984              90.0 m             90.0 m                     —

1988              89.0 m                    —                  95.0 m

1992              90.0 m                    —                  96.0 m

1994              90.0 m                    —               100.0 m

1998              90.0 m                    —                  98.0 m

2002              90.0 m                    —               100.0 m

2006              95.0 m                    —               106.0 m

2010              95.0 m                    —               106.0 m

2014              95.0 m                    —               106.0 m

Large Hill

Year              K-Point      Table Point            Hill Size

1964              81.0 m                    —                     —

1968              90.0 m                    —                     —

1972             110.0 m           100.0 m                     —

1976             104.0 m             95.0 m                     —

1980             114.0 m           102.0 m            125.0 m

1984             112.0 m           112.0 m                     —

1988             114.0 m                    —                122.0 m

1992             120.0 m                    —                132.0 m

1994             123.0 m                    —                138.0 m

1998             120.0 m                    —                131.0 m

2002             120.0 m                    —                134.0 m

2006             125.0 m                    —                140.0 m

2010             125.0 m                    —                140.0 m

2014             125.0 m                    —                140.0 m

One thing to note is that the hills for Torino (2006), Vancouver (2010), and Sochi (2014) are exactly the same size, both in terms of K-point and Hill Size. The other thing of interest is that until 2006, both the normal hill and large hill tended to get bigger at each Olympics.

Finally, note that the normal hill used at the 2002-10 Winter Olympics, at a hill size of 106.0 m, is approaching the maximum for a normal hill (109.0 m), as defined by FIS regulations. The large hills, however, remain well below ski flying specifications and could theoretically be made larger at future Olympics.