Sunday, January 6, 2002
By ESPN.com news services
Olympic competition dates and venues:
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
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.