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Ski jumping is a little-known sport, where athletes ski down an extremely tall ramp, called an in-run, and then attempt to fly as far as possible and land on the out-run, which is the snow-covered (or plastic-covered if there is no snow) face of an extremely tall mountain. The ski jumper who lands the furthest on the out-run without dying is pronounced the winner.
Ski jumping originated in Norway, where in 1809 a Norwegian soldier first ski jumped off a cliff into the sea. Most historians now think that the soldier was trying to commit suicide, and happened to be wearing skis, but in Scandinavia where suicide is always good entertainment, a sport was born.
edit Contemporary ski jumping
Contemporary ski jumping has become a big commercialized circus, touring Europe and occasionally Japan. Compared with the past, ski jumpers now fly lower and slower as a result of shorter in-runs. It is now considerably safer to ski jump than it was before, with new rules continually being implemented to lessen athlete death, and to make ski jumping more appropriate for globalization. However the sport of ski jumping has always been torn over making ski jumping safer for athletes, or making the sport more exciting to watch. Ski jumping is now mainly watched by people in quaint European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Poland. It does not exist outside the northern hemisphere, because not many people in the world care about ski jumping except those from the aforementioned countries.
Ski jumping is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski, or FIS. Its director is Walter Hofer, who is something like a God for ski jumpers. Walter Hofer can smite ski jumpers according to his whims, and he often makes up arbitrary rules to do just that. He is treated with the utmost respect, and like God, his every word becomes law.
Ski jumping is not just a winter sport; it can also be done in the summer. The summer form of ski jumping is becoming increasingly popular due to global warming. The ramps may be made out of porcelain or wet plastic, so that athletes can enjoy the heart warming feeling of jumping 200 metres in the air and crashing spectacularly in the summer sun.
edit Ski jumping techniques
edit I and V
Until the end of the 20th century, ski jumpers jumped with their skis together, similar to the classic style of cross-country skiers. This was called the “I style”. Using the “I style”, however, resulted in a high risk of severe injuries because athletes were flying, and landing at extreme speeds.
During the late 80’s, Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklov invented a new technique called the "V-style". Due to his severe case of rickets, he kept his skis in the V-position instead of traditional I one. He and his coach discovered that he was able to fly further but slower and - as a result - safer. The judges, however, did not like Jan Boklov’s new style. They tormented him in all of the competitions he participated in, and gave him very low style scores. “Real men jump with their skis closed,” a judge wrote, “I cannot give this Swedish clown a score higher than “2” for jumping in such a ridiculous way. His form is hideous, and furthermore ski jumpers should learn to take their injuries like a man.” Despite his low style scores, Jan Boklov was able to succeed because his technique allowed him to jump much further than his opponents. He would go on to win the World Cup in 1988-1989.
Later, the FIS decided to let other ski jumpers jump in the “V-style” also. This is because Jan Boklov completely dominated the ski jumping scene, and the sport became boring to watch. After the rule change, other ski jumpers began to jump further than Boklov, and Boklov became what he was destined to be – an average, anonymous, failure of a skier.
Telemark takes its name from a place in Norway where a man first remarked that skiers were landing with very unaesthetic form, “on both feet”. The man proposed that, after jumping off the hill, skiers should attempt to land on one foot, then try to kneel by placing one foot in front of the other without the knee of the back leg touching the ground, all while sliding down the out-run at an extremely fast speed. Afterwards, it was agreed that ski jumpers really did look much better this way, and this became the official landing style that we know today, called telemark.
Landing telemark is considered dangerous, as it increases the risk of falling at landing. Naturally, when the ski jumpers were jumping I-style and landing telemark, severe injuries were common. However, all judges agree that ski jumpers really looked much better this way.
edit Rules of ski jumping
The rules of ski jumping were written by Walter Hofer. The details change every year, but the basic principles remain the same. Extra rules are often added with the sole purpose of preventing certain athletes, especially those who anger Hofer, from competing.
Transcribed from the Professional Ski Jumper’s Charter, the rules of ski jumping are as follows:
Rule #1: The Federation Internationale du Ski, or FIS, regulates all ski jumping activity. Athletes must pledge eternal loyalty to the current Director of FIS, before they are allowed to compete in major ski jumping events. Being allowed by the Director to participate in ski jumping is a blessing and a privilege that should not be taken for granted. The Director reserves the right to change all rules. Athletes must always agree with the Director and should praise the Director at least once a day.
Rule #2: Athletes who plan to participate in major ski jumping events need to meet certain criteria. The FIS wants to reassure concerned parties that this is in no way discriminatory. It has, however, been observed that the groups of the race and gender in question cannot ski jump at a level that is good enough to achieve commercial success and foster a competitive atmosphere. In the unlikely event that those groups manage to improve their skills in ski jumping, they are certainly very welcome to participate.
Rule #3: Athletes must be equipped with the proper equipment, such as the correct skis and the correct garments, as outlined in the official FIS Ski Jumping Handbook. Athletes are not allowed to use parachutes or overly loose garments to gain an advantage in distance. There have also been instances where particularly skinny athletes with loose garments were blown away by the wind, only to be found a several weeks later. It is for this reason that the FIS also requires its athletes to be above a certain BMI.
Rule #4: The green light signals the start of the jump. At the green light, athletes should start going down the in-run. Please note that once the athlete has the green light, he must not stop, no matter what. The official who green lights the athletes has a very slim chance of making mistakes, especially about wind conditions, and if you see an athlete being allowed to jump in an extremely dangerous situation, he is probably a jackass who deserves it.
Rule #5: Athletes land on the out-run. The telemark technique is the landing technique that every jumper should use. Athletes should also try to refrain from dying while landing on the out-run, as doing so could result in a disqualification.
Rule #6: We at the FIS cannot resist exclaiming, “What kind of ridiculous person ski crosses after they ski jump? This is abominable!” Sadly, this nefarious sport exists, and it is known as Nordic Combined. Nordic Combined skiers have no sport spirit, and are known to generate a negative atmosphere, which we cannot have around athletes who are about to participate in potentially suicidal endeavors. Also, their flashy garments are a distraction to real ski jumpers. It is for these reasons that all athletes who are connected with Nordic Combined are not allowed to take part in real ski jumping events. As such, Ski jumpers who ski more than 10 metres after exiting the out-run will be disqualified, and an inquiry will be held afterwards to make sure they are not turning into Nordic combined skiers.
Rule #7: It has come to the attention of the FIS that a certain individual by the name of Michael Edwards, or “Eddie the Eagle”, has been achieving unprecedented commercial success despite being one of the worst professional skiers the FIS has ever laid eyes upon. This man is an embarrassment to ski jumping. The FIS hereby declare that if Eddie the Eagle takes part in a qualifier for any major ski jumping event, the distance that he jumps will be the distance to beat for all athletes wishing to qualify. If an athlete jumps at a distance equal to or lesser than the distance that Eddie the Eagle jumped in that particular qualifier, he will not be eligible. If Eddie the Eagle happens to be not participating, then everyone qualifies.
Rule #8: It has come to the attention of the FIS that a certain individual by the name of Vinko Bogataj, or “The Agony of Defeat man”, has been achieving a certain amount of popularity in the United States. This man is the pride of ski jumping. To preserve his legendary status, no ski jumper is allowed to crash more spectacularly than Vinko Bogataj, ever. However, officials should note that Vinko Bogataj is still not allowed to take part in major ski jumping events.
Rule #9: All the rules above can be changed or suspended at will by the Director. In fact, the rules are probably being changed as we speak, and you have just wasted 10 minutes reading this.
edit Wind factor
The most important thing in ski jumping is the wind, which is actually the only factor that decides who wins. Headwind increases the distance that you jump, and tailwind decreases it (the opposite is true for running). In the past the technical directors of competitions often let jumpers ski in precarious wind conditions because they claim that they were not aware of dangers caused by it. The wind caused a lot of ski jumper injuries as a result, and sometimes it blew away particularly light jumpers.
The BMI was introduced to ski jumping in order to prevent ski jumpers from dying due to anorexia. That was a smart move and saved the lives of several German and Russian ski jumpers. However, some ski jumpers were naturally thin, and the BMI standard forced them to put on weight or shorten their skis - and that of course shortened their jumps. Sigurd Pettersen, Norwegian jumper, needed to put on 15 kilos. He was not able to and from a good jumper he became a loser.
edit The typical jump
Prior to a typical jump, the ski jumper prepares for it mentally. Well, this is not weird if you realize that the jumper is thrown off of the in-run at 100 km/h and approaches the ground at only a minimally lower speed. The ski jumper needs to sit on a bar that's attached to the in-run and needs to wait for the green light. Usually, the guy who turns the light on, will then quickly turn on the red light forcing him to go down. This guy is called Miran Tepes and he is the right hand of Walter Hofer. His popular excuses for turning on the red light are "wind conditions" or "I don't like this guy really". Miran Tepes was heavily criticized in 2007 when he let his fellow Slovenian Rok Urbanc take a jump in an extremely strong wind. This set up this poor ski jumper to actually win the event, beating all of the other competitors by a large number of points. The problem was not actually the win itself but the fact that Tepes didn't allow any other ski jumper to jump under such prime conditions.
When the green light is on, the ski jumper needs to close his eyes and slide off the bar forcing himself to ski down the in-run at dramatically increasing speed. In the past, jumpers had to be careful about their feet position as there were no tracks for the skis. But even now, not every ski jumper is able to ride down the in-run without problems - even though this is considered the easiest part of the jump. This is shown in the famous case of Wolfgang "Wuff" Loitzl  who fell off the bar and slid on his back to the bottom of the in-run, harvesting, by the way, all the sticks put on the in-run as decorations
All ski jumpers need to jump in the 2 second window of a "good take-off". If they jump too early or too late, the jump will be short and possibly deadly. You have probably guessed that most of the ski jumpers have a problem taking off in the 2 second window. In some famous cases, ski jumpers actually forgot to do a take-off which resulted in the fabulous crashes of South Korean jumper Choi and German Frank Loffler. Loffler showed it is possible to forget to take-off even if you are a professional ski jumper. However, despite the lack of a take-off, Loffler was able to land in a telemark, then fell anyway.
Flying - the most orgasmic part of the jump. The ski jumper flies through the air and feels the caresses of the wind over every inch of his/her body. The jumper flies for 1-4 seconds by laying slightly over the skis making the body more aerodynamic. However, Czech Jakub Janda lays between, or even under the skis and, using this eccentric technique, actually won the World Cup. The ski jumper should focus on not moving while flying but some jumpers, like Robert Mateja, prefer constant moving and twitching while flying, which never resulted in anything positive.
The most dangerous part of the jump. Most poor ski jumpers prefer to land safely in the Finnish way - with both feet together. But if a ski jumper wants to get more points, he needs to risk his life and gesundheit by landing in telemark. However some ski jumpers prefer to land on their heads, backs or asses, especially if they forget it's not freestyle skiing.
edit Ski jumping hills
Ski jumping hills are... hills, mountains, or scaffolds with an in-run and out-run built on it. Ski jumping hills are often located near small villages that would be mostly unknown if it wasn't for the ski jumps. Of course, all hills in the northern hemisphere are in countries that experience snow at least occasionally.
Some hills are smallish and in theory nobody can be hurt on them (with some Dutch exceptions, but later about it), some are average and some are big - where World Cup competitions are held. And there are few monsters where ski jumpers fly over 200 metres and quite often hurt themselves when they fall.
All hills have a K and HS points. The K point is the most important in jumping - it's the length upon which all distance points are based. The HS point is the Holy Shit point - the length where only certain death awaits the jumper.
edit (In)famous jumping hills
Suicide Hill, Ishpeming, Michigan, USA
A famous, decent-sized jumping hill. It has K-90, and is reached at the end of highway M-90. It acquired its name because students at Michigan Tech had no idea that ski jumping was an actual sport but thought the jump hill might be a better suicide venue than the bridge at The Loop in "downtown" Houghton. Enough mass suicides have been committed there that the subject is now a degree minor at Tech.
The biggest mammoth jumping hill in the world. Smallish Slovenia has the most jumping hills per square kilometer of anywhere, because it includes roofs and the occasional tree. Slovenians have let these ski areas fall into disrepair, but later built "da biggest hill ever," Velikanka, later renamed Letalnica when the copyright owner threatened to sue. The record jump at Letalnica is 239 metres, by Bjørn Einar Romøren.
Olympic Ski Jumping Hill in Hakuba, Japan
Wholly made of metal, the ski jumping hill is quite interesting in its design. The jumping hill includes a river that cuts the out-run in half and a bridge that is hung over the out-run. If a ski jumper jumps too high, he may cut his head off on the metal parts. The hill in Hakuba was built at a tremendous cost of $50 million, and investors will start to earn returns circa 2095 (but only if the Japanese government will still pay out to them). At Hakuba hill, wind conditions always disturb the event. There has never been a normal event in Hakuba.
The Big Krokiew, Zakopane, Poland
One of the things that the Poles most certainly care about. When World Cup arrives to Poland, everybody pilgrims to Zakopane in a way that is reminiscent of the Muslims pilgriming to Mecca. Unfortunately, the hill is nearly ruined and FIS has indicated several times that the Poles need to rebuild it. This is something the Poles are not concerned about for they still believe that The Big Krokiew is the most awesome hill in the world.
Mühlenkopfschanze, Willingen, Germany
The biggest of the big jumping hills (not to be confused with mammoth hills) it is mostly known for its wrongly measured K-point. For many years it was a K-120. But one day an anonymous engineer spotted that this measurement was wrong and it should actually be K-130. The K-point was moved without rebuilding. So nowadays the record of 151,5 metres of Adam Małysz is not that fabulous as it's just 21,5 meters over K. In the past, people thought it was 31,5 meters over K, and that was looking definitely better.
Rukatunturi, Kuusamo, Finland
Not much is known about that hill but it has a funny name.
edit Ski jumping teams and ski jumpers
In the past, that was one of the best teams. Such jumpers like Sven Hannawald or Martin Schmitt were well-known in Germany and were winning many competitions but they were more often losing to the Pole - Adam Małysz. Due to this fact Sven Hannawald got anorexia and severe depression and gradually retired from proffesional sport. Martin Schmitt also got depression and recently in 2010, anorexia. From now on suffering from anorexia is considered a natural event in the life of every German ski jumper.
Adam Małysz, Adam Małysz, Adam Małysz, Adam Małysz and once again Adam Małysz - that's what the Poles only care about. Actually Adam Małysz is the only ski jumper in Poland you can describe in positive way. He won four World Cups and four World Championships. Well... about the rest of the team... Tomisław Tajner the son of coach embarrassed himself in an every jump he did. Robert Mateja became a synonymous of a short jump with a high risk of a severe injury. Marcin Bachleda and Tomasz Pochwała showed that you neither have to be talented nor skilled to be a proffesional ski jumper.
Austria has so many ass-kicking ski jumpers that most of the world already lost their count. At the same time they are able to have 6 jumpers in the first 10 of any competition. One retires, they find another and so on. They had so many jumpers that even Arnold Schwarzeneger was competing for Austria and even placed 3rd in Nagano.
Switzerland is a team made of two proffesional jumpers - Simon Ammann and Andreas Kuettel. They don't need any more. First one is Olympic and World Champion and the second one is World Champion. The case of other ski jumpers is similar to Poland.
Alcohol is your best friend at training! With that motto Lars Bystoel won his three medals (one gold; two bronze) in Torino. However, he also started to take drugs and it was not a good decision as he quickly became a loser. Another famous Norwegian ski jumper is Sigurd Pettersen who is the best example of a ski jumper who falls from a peak of his career to its bottom. He was good, he was winning and then, apparently due to a Walter Hofer's irritation, some rules changed and he had to use shorter skis from 2004 what totally ruined his career.
There are several good Finnish ski jumpers but what's characteristic - all of them are either black metal singers or apathetic guys unable to show any emotions. For example Ville Kantee retired early in order to become an unknown singer and Janne "The Mask" Ahonen did not smile during whole his career even when he won World Cup.
Apparently, there are no real people in Japanese team. They're rather robots because nearly all the Japanese ski jumpers are older than 35 (some have 40), while the age of 33, 34 or 35 is the best age for retirement for any particular ski jumper. Japanese do not care about that.
Recently Japanese ski jumpers introduced some sumo wrestlers to the sport as they claim fastest speed at the end of the inrun is the key to victory. As we know, fatter you are, faster you are. At least in ski jumping and luge.
Japanese ski jumpers also got the best financial condidtions. They are donated by government as long as they want to train regardless of the age.
edit United States
Actually, US sucks at ski jumping. They had one good jumper circa 2002 but he decided to give up ski jumping in order to become a pilot. He wanted to fly higher and longer.
Funnily, this 2 million nation got many ski jumpers and the most jumping hills per km sq. from any known country. They also got the biggest jumping hill (Planica). They got a good team but we can point out that they change ski jumpers more often than average guy changes slips.
In order to not abuse and blame young Chinese ski jumpers, ski jumping has no future in China. At least, this is a sport in which China will never win a gold medal.
Trivia: In an individual competition during 2009 Universiade in Chinese Harbin, Peilin Gong, one of their ski jumpers, achieved a rare feat as he got total score lower than 0...
Compared to Hungarian ski jumpers, China is even quite good. It's unbelievable how bad can be a certain nation in a sport. Hungarian ski jumpers occasionally compete in less important competitions regularly occuping the last positions. And to make the matters worse, lengths of their jumps are so short that it's actually hard to imagine that somebody can safely land there.
In order to visualise, in one competition Armin Csukovics from Hungary had 44 meters long jump (on K90 what is really short), in theory it was correct ski jump consisting of take-off, short jump and landing. Later in that competition, Austrian ski jumper Thomas Turnbichler made a mistake at a take-off and nearly fell on the head. Thank to his abilities, he landed safely but still jumped longer distance than Armin Csukovics'.
edit Great Britain
We claim Hungary the worst nation in the ski jumping world because they have many ski jumpers and all of them are the worst. But Great Britian achieved something extraordinary. They had a ski jumper who was a complete failure, who reached such an incompetence in this sport that he was seriously banned from competing after Olympic Games in Calgary. His name was Eddie Edwards, better known as Eddie the Eagle. He placed last in all competitions he took part in, he broke bones 17 times but always returned. Finally, after Olympic Games, Walter Hofer invented Eddie the Eagle rule which banned him from competing. The rule stated than nobody can start in Olympic Games if he didn't get into best 30 ski jumpers in competitions and didn't do it 30% of times he started. Additionally, every competition will have prequalification in which the worst ski jumpers will be eliminated.
Sounds complicated but that simply meant: No more Eddie Eagles.
Eddie was commercially the most successful ski jumper. He was a guest in all American talk shows (like Late Night with Somebody) and he earned over one million dollars due to his inepitude with ski jumping.
edit Ski jumping culture
This kind of thing actually exists only in two countries: Austria and Poland.
In Austria, supporters of ski jumping support their ski jumpers, love the sport, follow the ski jumpers in different parts of the world during World Cup and generally have very good attitude to Walter Hofer (as he is Austrian.
In Poland ski jumping cultures means praising or blaming Adam Małysz (praising when he wins, blaming when he is lower than 3rd), playing De Luxe Ski Jump PC games and openly hating Walter Hofer.
In USA ski jumping is usually erroneously taken for freestyle skiing.
edit Financial situation of ski jumpers
It's bad. They're poor. If you are ski jumper, you can't do it for money. Most of ski jumpers are not able to live without government's support. Only the best are able to earn enough money to feed their children.
However Walter Hofer seems to be rich. We do not suggest anything.