Nordic combined brings together ski jumping and cross-country skiing and makes for one of the most demanding sports around.
Not only does a skier need the courage and guile required for jumping, they then must have the strength and endurance to traverse cross-country – all with the aim of crossing the line first.
This exhausting sport has been a fixture at every Winter Olympics since they began in 1924. Made in Norway, the sport is no longer dominated solely by the nation where it all began, with Germany and Austria emerging as Nordic combined powerhouses in recent years.
While it has been a male-only event at the Games, the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in January will feature women for the first time. It is set to be a ground-breaking event for the sport, which may have seen minor tweaks over the years, but retains that same necessity whereby only the boldest skiers prevail.
The origins of Nordic combined
The clue is in the name, although it is specifically Norway where Nordic combined took off in the 19th century. It was the Holmenkollen ski festival in Oslo which first showcased the sport in 1892, with neighbouring countries Sweden and Finland soon attending the event. King Olav V of Norway even competed at the festival in the 1920s, a decade where the Olympic Winter Games kicked off in 1924.
The sport featured in Chamonix that year and has done so at every Games since. Norway’s unsurprising early dominance – having swept up every medal at the first four Games – means they lead the way in the all-time medals list.
However, Finland, and more recently Austria and Germany, have sought to wrestle away their crown. Norway have won 31 Olympic medals in the Nordic combined, including 13 golds, with Germany (14, inc. five golds), Finland (14, inc four golds) and Austria (15, inc. three golds) still having some catching up to do.
But it was Germany who ruled the roost at Pyeongchang 2018, with three-time Olympic champion Eric Frenzel leading the charge. He also won gold at the Nordic Ski World Championships earlier in 2019.
Rules and disciplines - in a nutshell
Currently, the Winter Olympics holds three events; the 10km individual normal hill, the 10km individual large hill, and the team normal hill. The individual normal (90m) and large (120m) hill events are followed by a 10km cross-country race, while the team event consists of the normal hill before a 4 x 5km cross-country relay.
The Youth Olympic Games in January will feature just the normal hill, followed by a 4km race for women and 6km for men.
There will also be a mixed team event, where six athletes (one male/one female cross-country skier, one male/one female ski jumper, one male/one female Nordic combined athlete) from one nation compete together.
Nordic Combined schedule at Lausanne 2020
Saturday, January 18
10:00 - 16:00 W Individual NH/4km, M Individual NH/6km
Monday, January 20
10:30 - 13:00 Mixed Team
Wednesday, January 22
10:00 - 11:00 Nordic Mixed Team NH 4x3.3km - Ski Jumping
13:30 - 14:30 Nordic Mixed Team NH 4x3.3km - Cross-Country Skiing (Vallée de Joux)