ZHANGJIAKOU, China ( Associated Press) — Ski jumping attracts spectators every four years as they fearlessly fly the length of an American football field and end zones.
Casual fans, however, may have no clue about the scoring system or the skills and techniques that are needed to win gold, even though the sport had been part of the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1924.
In the US, most people can’t name a ski jumper other than “Eddie the Eagle” from the 2016 film about Eddie Edwards’ chances of becoming a British Olympian.
The Associated Press is here to help. Here’s what to see, from Saturday when the ladies go to sleep, ski jumpers sit on a bar as high as a 40-story building until they glide on machine-made snow and wait to see what happens Let’s see how far they flew and how the judges performed theirs.
the bar is too high
Ski jumpers sit on a bar, calm their nerves with deep breaths, and wait for the green light to go off. If there is too much gust, they will have to step back from the bar and walk on a step to wait for the wind to calm down. A focused mind that ignores fear is important.
fun on the run
With wider and longer skis than in other disciplines, jumpers go down a steep slope called an in-run. They try to avoid making contact with the edges of the ice-filled channels, which allow them to move at speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph).
Jumpers jump forward with their helmets on, throw their hands back and crouch down in a tuck with a flat back for aerodynamics. Balance and flexibility are important.
cleared for takeoff
Near the end of the in-run, men and women perform an explosive jump without moving their upper bodies to create lift for flight. Timing and technique at take-off is perhaps the most important part of the 15-second process from sitting on the bar to stopping in the snow.
come Fly With Me
Jumpers lean forward with hands near the hips, hovering their torso on skis that are in a “V” shape in a technique used by Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklov in 1985, when he first parallelized them.
Coming to Landing
When the skis hit the snow, the judges want one to be slightly ahead of the other and for the jumpers to glide gracefully, known as an outrun.
style points matter
Jumpers are aiming for the K-point of the hill, where it begins to flatten out to earn 60 points and those who cross it earn more points while points are deducted for falling short. Five judges assign a score of up to 20 points for the style from start to finish, looking for jumpers who keep their torso and limbs stable as they float through the air and gracefully, among other things.
important to come
There’s a dirty little secret in the game, which is plagued with eating disorders. Fat fly not fly is a phrase heard at least in America, as physics prevents a heavier jumper from flying farther than a lighter one.
Norway’s Maran Lundby chose not to defend her Olympic gold as she gained weight and chose her physical and mental health first to skip the season.
impress your friends
If you’re looking for a winner, maybe don’t pick an American one. America has only won one Olympic medal, and it was quite a story that happened almost a century ago. Anders Haugen left the first Winter Olympics in 1924 without any hardware, but was awarded the bronze medal 50 years later after a scoring error was confirmed.
Norway, Austria and Germany are the traditional powers. Poland and Japan are also pretty good. Japanese jumper Ryoyu Kobayashi and Germany’s Karl Geiger are relatively safe bets for a place on the podium.
On the women’s side, Lundby took time off and Germany’s Katharina Althaus and Japan’s Sarah Takanashi are the favourites, after Austria’s top-order Marita Kramer tested positive for COVID-19.
hey what’s new?
For the first time this year, men and women will compete together in the mixed team event at the Olympics.
Follow Associated Press Sportswriter Larry Ledge at https://twitter.com/larrylage
More Associated Press Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports