It’s one event at the Olympics, but don’t let that fool you, the Nordic combined is very much two different sports rolled into one exciting round of skiing. It’s one of the most entertaining events at the games.
The Nordic combined has been a part of the Winter Olympics since the beginning. It was one of the events at the first games in 1924, held in Chamonix, and it’s been around for each one since then. But what exactly is the Nordic combined?
It’s ski jumping combined with cross-country skiing. Each athlete has do to both in the event. The jump comes first. Competitors are judged on style (e.g. fluidity and control) and distance, and, of course, they have to stick the landing. When the event starts, don’t look away; each jump only lasts about 10 seconds.
After their jump, athletes head off on a 10 kilometer (except for the team event) cross-country ski race. Where the jump requires balance and incredible lower-body strength, the cross-country race requires incredible endurance as skiers move over the hilly terrain of the race course.
There are three different Nordic combined events at the Olympics this year. The individual normal hill 10k, the individual large hill 10k and the team large hill relay. The difference in the two individual events is the length of the hill they’re jumping from at the start. For the team event, four athletes each make a jump before competing in a four-person, 5-kilometer relay.
The Nordic combined is the only event at the Winter Olympics this year that does not include a women’s category. Despite some hope that 2022 would mark the first time a women’s event would be added to the games, the IOC postponed it, citing the need to develop a more competitive scene in the sport for women. However, other recent international events have featured a Nordic combined event for female athletes.