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  • The competitors start in a tower above the slope. When they are told to start they go down a chute without sticks. The slope ends in an upward curve from which the skier takes off in the jump. The athletes compete in 70-and 90-metre jump events. This is the distance they can cover in the air before landing.


  • In ski-jumping, the heel is left loose, as for cross-country skiing, the boot being firmly attached at the front.

  • The skis are longer and heavier than for downhill skiing and have three grooves underneath.


  • The athlete is marked by judges for the distance jumped and for style, which is how the body is controlled through the jump and the landing. The person with the most points wins.


  • Matti Nykanen, born in Finland in 1963, set new levels in ski – jumping. In 1984 he won Olympic silver for the 70 metres and then won gold in the 90-metre event. In 1988 he won three gold medals: a team event had been added.


  • One of the oddest achievements in cross – country skiing was undertaken by the Briton Sir Alfred Lunn in 1958. Aged 70, he skied down Mont Blanc in the Alps. Apart from his age, two other points made Sir Arnold’s feat remarkable: he had already achieved fame by inventing slalom skiing and second, he accomplished the challenge even though, as a result of a climbing accident when aged 21, one of his legs was 2 inches shorter than the other.

  • The place of cross – country skiing in history was assured as long ago as 1521. The Swede Gustav Vasa, fleeing from Mora, Norway, to Salen, Sweden, was overtaken by scouts on skis, who persuaded him to return to Mora to lead a rebellion. His agreement led to his being crowned King of Sweden. The Vasaloppet cross-country ski race, the longest in the world, commemorates this event.

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