Calgary Ski Jumping

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Ski jumping began in 1809 when a Norwegian lieutenant, Olaf Rye, ski jumped 9.5 metres in the air for an audience of his soldiers. In 1860, the Norwegian carpenter and ski-maker Sondre Nordheim invented the first operational ski binding and jumped a distance of 30m to pioneer modern skiing. Scandinavian immigrants introduced the sport to Canada in 1880, with strong rivalries between ski clubs in Revelstoke and Rossland, British Columbia through the 1920s. Revelstoke's skill hill had an in run of over 600m from top to bottom, helping athletes from across the country break many ski-jumping records. In 1924, ski jumping was included at the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France.

In 1985, Swedish jumper Jan Boklov changed the sport by positioning his airborne skis in a V-shaped position, rather than the traditional parallel alignment under the skier's body. While the judge penalized Boklov and his opponents laughed at him, the innovative technique allowed for 28-per-cent more lift and was ultimately copied by most of his peers. Boklov won the World Cup title in 1988.

The jumper must achieve a speed of roughly 90 km/h going down the ramp, minimizing drag on the in-run. He must snap his skis upward and lean forward upon takeoff, shifting his centre of gravity ahead, stretching long and steady towards his ski tips. Jumpers use their leg power to propel them into an aerodynamic position for their time aloft, during which the skier must use their speed and the wind to effectively floating on the air. Usually, the jumper will stay airborne for roughly four to five seconds. The slope of the hill below the ramp falls slightly below the theoretically perfect trajectory, so the skier is never more than a few metres above the ground, providing for safer landings anywhere on the slope.

Ski jumping is judged on both technical and stylistic merit, evaluating both the distance flown and the skier's finesse and form. The three ski jumping events are the 90-metre individual (also called the K90 or normal hill), the 120m individual (also called the K120 or large hill), and the four-person team event held on the large hill. In all three events, each athlete performs two jumps.

The K-point is the target area for the ski jumper, generally equaling the height of the hill from takeoff (this point is adjusted for each competition based on environmental conditions). A jump to the K-point is worth 60 points, with additional points added or subtracted for each metre beyond or before this marker. The style marks are more subjective. A panel of five judges evaluates the position of the skis and body, balance in the air, the correction of errors, and landing in the telemark position (down on one knee, with one ski in front of the other and the arms stretched outward). A fall on the ramp (in-run) scores zero. The highest and lowest scores from the five judges are discarded, providing a skier up to 60 style marks.

In the Olympic "Nordic Combined" event the athlete competes in ski jumping, and then race cross-country with starts staggered based on their ski jumping points, so the cross country finish reflects the combined event winner.

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Snowboarding is a relatively expensive sport, though you can save on the high initial cost of equipment by renting your equipment. Freestyle snowboards are shorter and wider than alpine boards. The reduced length helps riders swing their boards more freely while performing tricks, and the increased width provides more stability for the rider.

A boarder's wardrobe includes a warm water-resistant winter outfit (not jeans), a tuque, a scarf or neck tube, ski gloves, ski goggles and warm undergarments and socks. Of course, for above-zero spring skiing, you no longer have to dress for warmth.

Most sports shops will have snowboarding equipment and clothing in season (watch for "end of season" sales by Valentine's Day) though ski hills have pro shop to sell anything forgotten, broken or lost. There is also an annual fall Ski Swap for both new and used equipment, which makes it easy to compare products and prices.

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In Canada, there are ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary (site of the 1988 Winter Olympics), at Camp Fortune in Ottawa, and in Thunder Bay. New Jump facilities are under contruction for the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Winter Olympics.

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