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H I L L S I Z E, S C O R I N G, N O R D I C C O M B I N E D
Info to help you understand and enjoy ski jumping and Nordic Combined
How Do Hills Get “Rated” for Size? What’s a K90, K120, etc.?
How is Ski Jumping Scored? And What’s This About “Style Points” Anyway?
What is Nordic Combined?
About Ski Jumping ... Hill Sizes and Scoring Explained
Ski jumping is about flight, not height. It’s about how FAR you fly, and has nothing to do at all with
height. Lots of photos are shot from ground level, making it look like the jumper is high above the
ground. This is misleading. The object of the sport is to stay in the air as long as possible, and the
flight is measured from the point of takeoff to the point of landing. For casual observers, it would
appear to be ONLY about distance. But there are those darn judge points, and lots of people still use a
very outdated term, “style points.” OK, you’re confused. Let’s explain. We’ll start with hill sizes.
The two hill sizes at the Olympics are referred to as “normal” (NH) and “large” (LH). The “par”
distance on the NH is about 95 meters (312 feet), sometimes noted as K90. It’s designed so good
jumpers will fly that far ... or farther. A jumper gets 60 points for jumping to that spot, known as the K
point. This can also be called a “K95” hill. Jumpers get two points ADDED to the 60 point score for
every meter they fly BEYOND the K point. They’ll LOSE 2 points for each meter they land short of K.
The “par” distance on the large hill (LH) is about 125 meters (410 feet), which is ofte represented as
K120. A jumper will get 60 points for flying that far, and 1.8 points per meter added or subtracted from
their score for going beyond (or landing short of) the K point.
There are judges, too, who can award up to 60 points per jump (20 points per judge) for good
technique The term “style points” is a holdover from days gone by, when distances weren’t that great,
and there was more emphasis on being “graceful” or “stylish.” They are more appropriately thought of
today as TECHNIQUE points or, simply, JUDGE POINTS.
Most really good jumpers get between 16 and 19 points for technique from each of 3 judges (there are
5 judges; high and low scores are discarded). Typically, a good jumper will probably get about 55
points per round from the judges, and about 65 points for flying a bit beyond the K point, or 120 points
total per jump (distance points plus judge points).
So, in a two-jump event, on ANY HILL, a score of 240 is good. The best jumpers will get many more
points because they’ll fly far beyond the K point; the best often score near 300 points, because the
distance points are unlimited. In reality, distance rules, but when distances are close, judge points
become a tiebreaker.
Since there are jumps of all sizes, converting distances to points creates a standardized scoring system
regardless of hill size. A score of 240 is good, no matter the size of hill you compete on, and if you are
really good, you’ll roll up a big score because of flights greatly exceeding “par” distance.
Disclaimer: FIS uses the term “hill size” (HS) to refer to the maximum safe distance. We do not use
that term or that number in this discussion, because it’s confusing. Case in point ... the world
distance record in ski flying (really, REALLY big jumps) is 251.5 meters. It was accomplished in 2014 in
Vikersund NOR. That hill is rated K-195 (what WE call “par”), with the FIS “hill size” (HS) rating at
225 meters. So the world record is more than 10% FURTHER than “hill size!” Confused yet? That “HS”
number is useful to the competition jury. If jumpers start exceeding that distance, they may require
using a lower start gate to reduce takeoff speed for the safety of the athletes.
But ... since this is a definition of scoring, we stick with the the K-point ... the “par distance” which is
the baseline for scoring.
About Nordic Combined
Where the Sports of Ski Jumping and Cross Country Racing are ... COMBINED!
Nordic Combined athletes have to be good at ski jumping AND cross-country racing. They have a round
of jumping to begin tradiditonal competitions. The jumping scores are calculated just like for regular
ski jumping, then converted to a time differential for the start of a cross-country race. The athlete
who jumps farthest is the first to start the race, and each athlete’s start time is some seconds (and
fractions of seconds) behind the leader. Often the best jumpers aren’t the best racers, and vice versa,
which makes for some thrilling finishes to the race portion.
Why Do They Do This? These Sports Are So Different From Each Other?
Historically, ski competitions were often multi-discipline. In fact, even into the 1950s and ‘60s, you’d
occasionally hear of “skimeister” competitions that involved jumping, cross country, and two Alpine
disciplines, slalom and downhill. Specialization took over, and now only Nordic Combined (jumping and
XC), and biathlon (XC and shooting) survive as multi-discipline snow sports. The old “skimeister”
competition was somewhat analogous to the pentathlon in track, which featured five events, and
spotlighted all-around athletes. Decathlon, ten events, no skiing equivalent.
The Amazing US Success in the 2010 Olympics, Vancouver
The phenomenal success of the US Nordic Combined team at the 2010 Olympics burst into public
consciousness with the amazing finish in the first NC event, where Johnny Spillane took the silver
medal, Todd Lodwick finished 4th, and Billy Demong placed 6th. They then took silver in the team
relay. To top it all off, Demong won gold and Spillane grabbed another silver in the LH/10K individual
competition. Never a US medal in 84 years of Olympic competition, and four of ‘em in Vancouver!
In the interest of historical accuracy, we must point out that in recent years, a scoring calculation
error was discovered that would have resulted in US athlete Anders Haugen being awarded a bronze
medal at the first Winter Olympics, in 1924 at Chamonix FRA. He was recognized posthumously.