If you’re a Park City resident, or if you’re visiting for the holidays, swing by the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) on December 28th -29th to watch one of the craziest winter sports. The UOP is playing host to the Sochi Winter Olympic Trials for Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping. Here’s the quick and dirty explanation for each sport.
What is Ski Jumping?
In ski jumping, athletes start at the top of the 90M jump for the “normal hill competition” or the 120M jump for the “large hill competition”. Explosive power on take-off, as well as technique in the air, are the keys to flying as far as possible. Standing at the top of the inrun stirs up a feeling of awe for what these athletes do – the sheer height they take off from makes the average human’s knees buckle. On take-off, jumpers seemingly suspend themselves in the air over their huge skis (reaching 275 cm in length), but they are actually reaching speeds of 70 mph as they fly distances sometimes reaching 200M.
The 2014 Sochi Olympics are significant, because these are the first games women’s ski jumping is included. This is history in the making, and the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team was instrumental in making this step happen. Watch out for Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome to go big this weekend – they’re coming off a couple of top-ten results at the World Cup in Hinterzarten, Germany.
What is Nordic Combined?
Nordic Combined athletes pair ski jumping with a cross-country ski race. The score in the jumping competition seeds the Nordic skier for a pursuit-style start in the subsequent cross-country race. This means that the skier with the best score starts first. After a morning of jumping, the athletes transfer over to the trails, where a 10K or 7.5K (depending on event) skate race determines the winner. The overall winner of the Nordic Combined event needs not only skill on the jumping side, but also endurance and strength for the Nordic ski race.
Athletes will be vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, so the competition will be fierce. 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist and local Parkite Billy Demong, as well as U.S. Ski Team members Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, and Nick Hendrickson will be among the competitors. For more information on the Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping events click here.
After watching the Nordic Combined event, if you feel inspired to take up the sport of cross-country skiing, swing by the White Pine Nordic Center located at 2001 Park Ave for a lesson with our expert instructors. You might just fall in love with sport, which will give you a whole new appreciation when you watch the U.S. Olympic Team compete in Sochi in just a few short months.Evelyn Dong, content writer