Take off: Ski Jumping at Sochi
Medal events: 4
Dates: 8–17 February
Ski jumping has been contested at every Winter Games, but Sochi 2014 will mark the first time that women have competed in the event on the Olympic stage.From 1924 to 1960, only the individual large hill event was held at the Games, with the individual normal hill being added in Innsbruck in 1964 and the team large hill event joining the programme in Calgary in 1988. Medallists are decided by a combination of points for distance and style. Points for distance are determined by the length reached in relation to the jump’s critical (K) Point, which determines the hill size and the points calculation for the distance achieved. Five judges then award each jumper up to 20 points for style. Each competitor jumps twice, with the gold medal going to the athlete with the greatest aggregate points. In Sochi, men will compete in both the normal and large hill events, while women will only compete on the normal hill.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
Austria’s 2010 Olympic bronze medallist Gregor Schlierenzauer took the overall World Cup title in 2013, which included victory at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre, where the 2014 Olympic events will be held. Poland’s reigning large hill world champion Kamil Stoch and 2013 normal hill world champion Anders Bardal, of Norway, will also be in the hunt for medals, along with Germany’s Severin Freund and Switzerland’s defending champion Simon Ammann.
Kamil Stoch ©IOC
Japan’s 2012 Youth Olympic champion Sara Takanashi took the women’s 2013 World Cup title and has so far dominated the 2013/2014 season, winning six of the first seven events. The 17-year-old was beaten by the USA’s Sarah Hendrickson at the 2013 World Championships, however, with Germany’s Carina Vogt, France’s Coline Mattel and Austria’s Jacqueline Seifriedsberger also likely to challenge Takanashi to become the first ever women’s Olympic champion. The host nation, meanwhile, will be pinning their hopes of a medal on 22-year-old Irina Avvakumova, who has enjoyed an impressive start to the current World Cup campaign.
Norwegians dominated the early Olympic competitions, winning the gold medal at the first six editions of the Winter Games, with Birger Ruud claiming the Olympic title in 1932 and 1936, as well as silver in 1948.
Birger Rudd - ©Getty Images
Finland’s Matti Nykänen has won more Olympic ski jumping medals than any other athlete, however, having won four gold and one silver medal. After winning the normal hill title and finishing second in the large hill event in Sarajevo in 1984, the Finn returned in Calgary four years later to win gold in all three ski jumping events – the only man to have achieved the feat.
At the last Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, Switzerland’s Simon Ammann won both the normal and large hill events to become the first man to win gold medals in both individual ski jumping events in two Winter Games, following his double success in Salt Lake City in 2002.