Winter Olympics: Nordic Combined
Long dominated by Scandinavian countries
by John Gettings and Christine Frantz
Did You Know?
Nordic combined is one of three current Olympic Winter Games events that the United States has never won a medal. (Biathlon and curling are the others.)
The Nordic combined involves two staples of the Winter Games: ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
A new scoring system, introduced at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, made the event more fan-friendly. The Gunderson Method, named for its inventor, is a system that judges use to award the first starting position in the cross-country race. The rest of the athletes' ski jumping scores are then converted into staggered start times.
In the past it took judges hours after the event to finish comparing ski jump points and cross-country times and thus determine the winner. This revolutionary formula sped up the process.
The new procedure meant that, for the first time, the first athlete to break the tape at the end of the cross-country race was the overall winner.
The Nordic combined at Turin will feature three medal events:
- Competitors complete two ski jumps from the normal hill (90 m/295 ft) on the first day. A 15-km cross-country race is held on the following day.
- Competitors complete one ski jump from the large hill (120 m/394 ft). A 7.5-km cross-country race is held the following day.
- Each nation will enter a team of four athletes. All four skiers will make two jumps off the normal hill on the first day. Each team will get a ranking based on the aggregate score of their eight jumps. The same athletes who jumped compete in a 4 x 5-km relay race the following day.
The Nordic Combined will be held on Feb. 14, 23, and 25. The venue for all the Nordic disciplines during the 2010 Games is the new Whistler Olympic Park, in an area called the Callaghan Valley.
In 2006, Austria, Germany, and Norway dominated the medals in the individual and team events.
The United States' best chance at winning its first medal are veteran Olympians Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spilane. All three have made impressive showings in recent world competitions.