What Is Nordic Combined Skiing? Cross-Country Mixed With Jumps


Akito Watabe of Japan, center, celebrated after winning the Nordic combined in a World Cup event in Hakuba, Japan, this month. Jan Schmid of Norway, left, was second, and Manuel Faisst of Germany third.

Kyodo News, via Associated Press

There are three kinds of skiing events at the Winter Olympics. Alpine skiing consists of the traditional events in which skiers race down a hill: the slalom, the giant slalom, the downhill. Freestyle skiing is the newest discipline, with skiers spinning and flipping in the halfpipe or over moguls.

That leaves the Nordic events, specifically defined as ones in which athletes’ heels are not affixed to the skis. The two main Nordic events are quite different: cross-country skiing, which requires endurance, and ski jumping, the daredevil event that rewards courage, aerodynamic form and a slight body.

So why not take these two disparate events and combine them? That’s Nordic combined.

Skiers start by taking two ski jumps, scoring points for distance and style. Next up is a 10-kilometer cross-country race. Competitors start based on their performance in the ski jumping: The best ski jumper takes off first, then the others follow in staggered fashion. The first skier across the line wins.

Three gold medals are awarded in Nordic combined. There is an individual event on the large ski jumping hill and another on the smaller, “normal” hill. There is also a team event in which four athletes jump, then participate in a cross-country relay. Nordic combined is a men’s only event at the Olympics.