Here's How the Olympic Ski Jumping Competition Works

Amazed by the ski jumpers in the 2022 Winter Olympics? Get details on how ski jumping works -- like scoring, tracks, gate compensation, k-points and more.

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Ski jumping makes for one of the most spectacular events at the Winter Olympics — fearless athletes hurtling down a steep ramp, approaching 60 mph, before launching themselves off a jump and soaring the length of a football field.

It takes an immense amount of precision to successfully land a ski jump attempt, let alone perform one that is gold-medal worthy. And the scoring is not just as simple as measuring distance. 

Here is everything you need to know about the sport of ski jumping:

What are the ski jumping events for 2022?

Ski jumping will be held in the mountainous Zhangjiakou competition zone, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Beijing.

The five ski jumping events are: Men's normal and large hill individuals, men's team, women's normal hill individual and mixed team.

In both men's individual events, competition consists of two training sessions and a qualifier before the final. In the men's team event, there is only one trial session and then two rounds of competition.

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The women's hill event consists of one trial jump and two rounds of scored jumps. There is no qualifying round.

The mixed team competition, making its debut in Beijing, takes place on the normal hill with a woman-man-woman-man sequence.

What is the K-point in ski jumping?

Each hill has a target point for landing, known as a "K" point. The K-point is where the steepest part of the hill ends and slope starts to flatten out.

The K-point on a normal hill is 90 meters, referred to as (K90) which is measured from the end of the take off to where the hill begins to flatten out. On a large hill, the K-point is120 meters, or K120.

How does Olympics ski jumping scoring work?

In ski jumping, participants earn points for distance and style, along with gate and wind compensation points, all of which are scrutinized by five judges with the lowest and highest scores eliminated. 

They are awarded points based on how far they land from the K-point, with more points earned the further they go over the K-point.

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Jumps are also scored on their style in the air in addition to how clean the landing is. Ski jumpers lean forward in flight, nearly parallel to their skis that form a V to take advantage of aerodynamics. When they land, however, their skis must be parallel with one foot ahead of the other. Turning skis in for balance will be penalized. 

Wind points are added or subtracted based on the strength and direction of the wind. Athletes are awarded more points when they jump through negative tangential winds, usually tailwind from behind, that could push them to the ground faster. Conversely, athletes are deducted points if their jumps are made with positive tangential winds, like headwinds, that would would give them longer lift.

Gate points are added or subtracted based on the athlete’s starting position. The technical jury sets a starting gate at the beginning of the competition. If an athlete begins at a higher gate for their jump, gate points are subtracted. If an athlete begins at a lower gate, gate points are added.

How far do ski jumpers jump?

It’s safe to say ski jumpers can get some distance in the air. 

Most ski jumpers will go over 90 meters, or 300 feet, in the air, with some of the best reaching over 100 meters (350 feet.) 

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To put in perspective just how far ski jumpers can go, Maren Lundby of Norway won gold in the women’s normal hill in 2018 with a distance of 111.0 meters. That’s about 361 feet, which is just slightly longer than an NFL football field, which is 360 feet. 

With the large hill, jumpers typically travel a greater distance than the normal hill competitors. It’s common to see ski jumper go more than 200 meters, or about 650 feet, in the air. 

What is the ski jumping world record?

The world record for farthest ski jump is currently held by Austria’s Stefan Kraft, whose 253.5-meter jump at the 2017 FIS Ski Jumping World Cup currently sits as the longest in history. 

Fun fact: the record he broke was just hours old. Norway’s Robert Johansson had set a new world record of 252 meters at the same event, breaking the previous record of 251.5 meters held by Norway’s Anders Fannemel, which he set in 2015. 

The furthest unofficial distance reached by a ski jumper is 254 meters. Russia’s Dmitriy Vassiliev reached that distance at the 2015 FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, but fell on the landing, thus ruling the jump invalid.

How often do professional ski jumpers crash?

It’s a rarity for ski jumpers to crash and be seriously injured, but it has happened. Since the last Olympics, only two crashes have been reported involving professional ski jumpers. 

Some crashes result in just a few bumps and bruises, but some are much more serious.

Norway’s Daniel-André Tande had a near life-threatening crash at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in March 2021. The 27-year-old Olympic gold medallist lost control midway through his jump during a ski flying event in Planica and crashed heavily into the snow before tumbling down the slope. He was hospitalized in a medically-induced coma for four days after suffering four cerebral hemorrhages, a punctured lung and two broken bones in the left collarbone. 

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