How Does Scoring Work?

By Ken Anderson,

Ski jumping is about distance ... how far you fly through the air. It's not about height, and it's not about acrobatics. It's flight, using your body and skis to help generate lift as you travel through the air, just as an airplane's wing does. Being better at doing this makes you fly farther. Those less skilled can leave  the takeoff with similar speed, but won't fly as far.

Hill sizes are rated by the distance a good jumper should fly ... a K90, or 90 meter hill, has a "par" distance of 90 meters. If it's K120, or 120 meter hill, it has a "par" distance of 120 meters.

Flight distances are measured, then converted to points via a formula. On any size hill, a jumper gets 60 points for hitting that "par" distance, then points are ADDED on a per-meter basis for flights beyond "K" ... the "par" distance, and they're deducted for landing short of that mark. On a K90 hill, it's 2 points per meter. On a K120, it's 1.8 points per meter. There's no "cap" to distance points. Fly further, get more points.

But ... there's another element, part of the tradition of the sport, and it involves judges with a scorecard, deducting points from a "perfect" score of 20 points for flaws in technique during flight or landing. There are usually three judges, so if each can award up to 20 points per flight, there are 60 points available for technique, often referred to as "style points." That's probably a misleading word. And there's no "degree of difficulty" factor ... it's all about execution. But you can never get more than 60 points (3 judges, max 20 points each) per round.

Typically in a high-level meet, a lot of jumpers will get scores in the 17-18 point range. If a jumper got three 18s, he or she would get 54 points from the judges for that round. Assuming this is a pretty good jumper on a K90 jump, he or she flies 3 meters beyond K, and gets 66 points (60 for reaching K, plus 2 points per meter beyond). That earns the jumper 66 distance points. Combined with 54 points from the judges, that jump is worth 120 points. Do it twice, and the jumper has a 240 point day ... a very good score on any size hill. Jumpers who roll up scores way over 240 are doing it on distance points, because there's no upper limit!

Traditional competitions follow this two-round format. Usually the second round is run in the order of lowest first-round score to highest, meaning the leading jumpers jump last in the final round. In high-level events, usually only the best 30 after the first round will ski in the final round.

There have been various distance elimination formats, with no judges, where everybody takes one jump, the field is cut, typically in half, and the top half takes a second jump, etc. in an elimination process until a winner is declared. There are multiple variations on this theme, and they tend to be popular with skiers and fans. However, those aspiring to compete internationally need to be familiar with, and accustomed to competing in, traditional scored events with judges.

© 2010-2012 Kenneth J Anderson,