Medal events: 3
Dates: 12–20 February
Nordic combined, which features ski jumping and a cross-country skiing race, has appeared at every Olympic Winter Games since Chamonix 1924. The early Olympic competitions involved an 18km cross-country skiing race, followed by ski jumping, with the competitor who earned the most points from both competitions winning the event.
At the 1952 Winter Games, however, the ski jumping element was held first, followed by the 18km cross-country race. Four years later, in 1956, the cross-country skiing element was reduced to 15km. Perhaps the biggest change to the discipline came in 1988, however, when the scoring switched to the ‘Gundersen method’, whereby the results of the ski jumping element determined the starting places for the cross-country race, with the jumping points converted into time penalties. This meant the cross-country segment switched from an interval start race to a pursuit race, with the athlete who crosses the finish line first winning the event.
The 1988 Winter Games also saw the introduction of the team event, which initially featured a 3x10km cross-country relay, before switching to the current 4x5km relay in Nagano in 1998.
A 7.5km sprint event was added to the programme at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, before Vancouver 2010 saw the 7.5km sprint and 15km individual events replaced by the 10km individual normal hill and 10km individual large hill events.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
Frenchman Jason Lamy-Chappuis, who won the 10km individual normal hill event in Vancouver in 2010, will be among the medal favourites again after finishing second overall in the 2012/13 World Cup, although he will face stiff competition from Germany’s overall World Cup winner and reigning individual large hill world champion Eric Frenzel. Austria’s Bernhard Gruber, Norway’s Magnus Moan, Japan’s Akito Watabe, and Germany’s Björn Kircheisen could also feature strongly.
With seven Olympic medals, Austrian Felix Gottwald is the most decorated Nordic combined athlete in the history of the Winter Games. Gottwald’s Olympic career began with three bronze medals at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, before he won gold in the 7.5km sprint and 4x5km team events, as well as silver in the 15km individual event, in Turin in 2006.
Perhaps the greatest individual performance at the Winter Games came in 2002, however, when Finland’s Samppa Lajunen won gold in all three Nordic combined events in Salt Lake City, to better the two silver medals he won in Nagano four years earlier.