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Every Question You Have About Ski Jumping, Answered

The idiot's guide to the Winter Olympics' most photogenic sport.

Is this ski jumping?


Yes, these people are jumping in the air on skis, but these are freestyle skiing events like halfpipe, slopestyle, moguls, and aerials. Basically: If there are tricks, it's freestyle.

So, this?


Ding ding ding. You win a trip to Jamaica and $10,000.


How high are the jumps?

There are two Olympic-size ski jumps, the "normal" hill and the "large" hill. But they could both be called "huge massive hill," more or less. Women will only jump on the normal hill, while men will jump on both the normal and large hills.

The size of a jump isn't about how high the top of the jump is, but rather the distance a skilled jumper will fly after taking off — kind of like a "par" in golf. On a normal hill, known as a K90, the par is 90 meters; on a large K120, it's 120 meters.

So, this is the first year women get to ski jump in the Olympics?

How do you win?

Sounds good. Can I try it?

I asked! Short answer: not right away.

Evan Bliss, head ski jumping coach for the New York Ski Educational Foundation, a Lake Placid-based development team that sends jumpers to the U.S. Ski Team, said it takes about five to six years of training to learn to safely jump a K90, and a few more years to get to a K120. There are smaller jumps, like K20s, for learning purposes.


Did you know there used to be nine ski jumping hills in the New York metro area?! Ski jumps used to be all over the place — but most have closed down.

Lake Placid (at right) and Park City still have their Olympic jumps in use, and a handful of towns across the U.S. still have jumps as well (not all of them are Olympic-size).

According to Bliss, a number of towns are trying to reopen their jumps. "A lot of people are trying to raise money to try and get their jumps up and running," he said. "People miss it. "

What happened?

Ski jumping was actually a college sport, until the NCAA discontinued it in 1980 — and things started to fall apart from there. "The jumps shut down, no one really was talking care of them," Bliss said.

OK, how about if I just want to see some more cool and/or terrifying photos?


The men's normal hill finals are on NBC tonight. The women's competition is on Tuesday, and the men's large hill event starts Friday.