Ski jumping has always required one essential component – snow. But now, thanks to advances in innovation, nature has been removed from the equation, allowing ski jumpers to train and compete all year round.
The year-round ski jump is the focus of an episode of The Tech Race, which explores the impact of the application of technology and science in sport and also features the development of a ski airbag, the impact of recreating outdoor conditions in a wind tunnel and the creation of a smart snowboard.
Tremplin du Praz, Courchevel, France, staged the ski jumping events at the Olympic Winter Games Albertville in 1992 and now it is at the forefront of technological advancement, with athletes able to train 12 months a year thanks to a EUR 1.5million investment.
In summer the jumpers slide directly on ceramic, porcelain tiles which are watered to mimic sliding on ice, supplied by an irrigation system, on to the take-off ramp and then launch.
During the Olympic Winter Games, men compete in the normal hill (90m) and the large hill (120m). Simon Ammann of Switzerland is the most decorated ski jumper in individual events, with four gold medals. The women’s normal hill event was introduced at Sochi 2014, where Carina Vogt of Germany jumped into the history books when she claimed the inaugural women’s gold medal.