Nordic combined 101: Rules and scoring
There are two portions for every Nordic combined event: ski jumping and cross-country skiing. For the individual normal hill event, ski jumping takes place on the normal hill (K98). For the individual large hill and team competitions, the ski jumping takes place on the large hill (K125). The cross-country portion of both individual events has a 10-kilometer race and the team event has a 4x5km relay. In each event, the ski jump takes place first and the cross-country skiing is contested later the same day, barring any weather delays or other unforeseen delays.
There is no rule stating that female athletes are prohibited from competing in Nordic combined events, though women have never competed in the sport at an Olympic Winter Games and rarely participate in the World Cup circuit.
Jumpers are scored based on distance jumped and style points earned, alongside gate and wind compensation points. The distance is measured along the curve of the landing hill from the take-off point to the exact place where the jumper’s feet touch the landing slope. Ideally, jumpers land in the Telemark position: landing with one ski in front of the other, lunging forward. Video cameras record the distance of each jump and then the distance is translated into distance points.
A ski jumper earns style points on a scale of 0 to 20 from five judges, and the highest and lowest scores are eliminated. A jump with perfect power, boldness, precision, fluidity and control of the jump from the take-off through the flight, the landing, and the out-run can earn a maximum of 60 style points.
Points can be added or subtracted based on the gate and wind factor.
Depending on the strength and direction of the wind, the athletes can have points added or deducted from their scores. Points are added when there are less favorable wind conditions; likewise, if there is a headwind, giving athletes more lift, points are subtracted. This addition to the scoring was first used at an Olympics in 2014.
The gate adjustments also affects scores. Points are reduced for a higher starting gate, while points are added for a lower start gate. Coaches or a technical jury can adjust an athlete’s starting gate before a run.
Because individual jumping and cross-country disciplines are evaluated on two different scales (points versus time), the Gundersen time-point conversion table is used to score the Nordic combined event. Named for its creator, Gunder Gundersen of Norway, the Gundersen Method allows spectators to easily follow the progress of the Nordic combined event during the respective cross-country races. In other words, whoever is in front is the leader of the competition and whoever crosses the cross-country skiing finish line first is the gold medal winner.