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Sunday, January 6, 2002
Fan Guide

By ESPN.com news services

FROM START TO FINISH
Skijumping

ESPN.com's animated fan guide feature takes you through the ins and outs of each sport. Check out each sport's fan guide for more.

Ski Jump

Nordic Combined


Olympic competition dates and venues:
Ski jump: Feb. 8, Feb. 10, Feb. 12-13, Feb. 18
Utah Olympic Park
Nordic combined: Feb. 9-10, Feb. 14-15, Feb. 21-22
Utah Olympic Park, Soldier Hollow

The outlook
Ski jump: Sven Hannawald of Germany became the first skier in the 50-year history of the event to sweep the Four Hills competition, a major Olympic prep. Adam Malysz of Poland won six of 13 World Cup events to lead in point standings. Other top competitors include Martin Schmitt of Germany, Martin Hoellwarth of Austria, and Finland's Matti Hautamaeki and Janne Ahonen.

Nordic combined: Best chance for a United States medal in the Nordic sports. Todd Lodwick, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., is competing in his third Olympics, after finishing 13th and 20th. In those Games, he excelled at jumping but struggled with his skiing. Last year's retirement of Norwegian Bjarte Engen Vik, who won two golds in Nagano, opens the door for two favorites: Austria's Felix Gottwald, the 2001 World Cup champion, and this season's leader, German Ronny Ackermann.

The finer points
Ski jump: Although on TV ski jumpers look like they are flying, they are never more than 15 or 20 feet off the ground but despite the lack of height, they soar for about 200 meters.

Introduced in the late 1980s, the V-style has become the predominant technique. Skiers previously kept their skis more or less parallel, but making a V with the front tips spread apart provides extra lift.

Three ski jumping events will be held at Salt Lake City: Individual normal hill, individual large hill, and team large hill (four members per team). Each skier has two jumps, and points are awarded for style and distance and totaled to determine ranking.

Nordic combined: As the name implies it combines the two elements of nordic skiing -- cross country and jumping. The individual event is the traditional competition with a jump on the normal hill and then a 15K cross-country race. Then the sprint on a large hill with a 7.5K race.

Although there has been some criticism that the athletes in the combined aren't good enough to excel in jumping or cross country, in reality the athletes have to succeed in two different sports.

Although in more recent competition both the jump and race are held on the same day, at Salt Lake City the more traditional schedule of two days.