History of Nordic Combined

Nordic Combined history

Being a mix of cross country and ski jumping, Nordic combined is considered one of the most physically demanding yet entertaining winter sports. This activity started in Scandinavia almost two centuries ago and is now part of the Winter Olympics, where it is featured in three men’s events.

Nordic Combined History

Nordic combined is one of the core skiing sports featured in the Olympics. However, it hasn’t always held such glamorous distinctions. Read on to learn more about Nordic combined and its development from a military exercise into an Olympic sport.

Origins of Nordic Combined

Historically, skiing has always been an integral part of the culture in Scandinavia, especially among the local soldiers. Starting in the sixteenth century, soldiers in Sweden were equipped with skis, while Norwegian soldiers developed the first prototypes of jumping skis. In the eighteenth century, Norwegian soldiers started organizing races involving both ski jumping and cross country skiing as a way of displaying their physical power. These races held at the local ski carnivals in Norway represent the first example of Nordic combined competitions.

Competitive Nordic Combined History

This sport quickly gained popularity across the Scandinavian Peninsula as the festival races started turning into international competitions. In 1892, the yearly races at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo, Norway, were turned into the first Nordic combined international competition, where even the Norwegian King Olav V competed in the 1920s.

Nordic combined became popular enough to be featured among the events at the inaugural Winter Olympic Games in 1924. However, the format has changed multiple times since then.

Olympic Nordic Combined History

The Olympic Nordic combined event previously consisted of a 15km race followed by two jumps, but as of 2008, it now includes one jump followed by a 10km race. This is due to the introduction of the Gundersen Method, which is used to calculate athlete’s placement for the cross country portion of the event. By rule of this method, the jump is now the first part of the competition. The results of the jump determine the starting order in the cross country race. The winner of the jump starts in the first position, while the second and remaining athletes follow behind in intervals based on their scores from the jumping portion. The skier that crosses the line first will then be awarded the gold medal.

Although Nordic combined has risen in popularity over the decades, it is still one of the three sports across the Winter and Summer Olympics that does not feature both men’s and women’s events. However, in recent years the Fédération Internationale de Ski has been pushing to include women’s Nordic combined events in the Olympic Program. After a refusal from the IOC to include women’s competitions at Beijing 2022, the goal will be to have a women’s Nordic combined event at Milan Cortina 2026. In the meantime, the Women’s Nordic Combined World Cup will have over ten events in 2022, and women’s competitions will also be included at the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2023.

Key Dates And Facts Timeline

  • 1892: The yearly ski races among Norwegian soldiers are turned into the first-ever international Nordic Combined competition at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo
  • 1924: Nordic Combined is included in the Olympic Programme at the Chamonix Winter Olympics, featuring a 10k cross country ski race on Saturday and a jumping competition on Monday
  • 1960: The West German Georg Thoma becomes the first non-Scandinavian to win a gold medal in the Nordic combined event at Squaw Valley 1960
  • 1988: The men’s team large hill/3x10km event is held for the first team in Calgary 1988
  • 1994: The men’s team large hill/4x5km event replaces the 3x10km starting at Nagano 1998
  • 2008: The format of the Nordic combined competitions is changed to incorporate one jump and a 10k cross country race event
  • 2010: Johnny Spillane becomes the first American to win an Olympic medal in the Nordic combined, claiming a silver medal in the 10 km normal individual hill
  • 2022: Nordic combined is part of the Olympic Program at Beijing 2022


What is the history of Nordic combined?

The first official Nordic Combined race was held in Oslo in 1892 at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. Soon after, this sport became popular outside the Scandinavian region, and it was included in the Olympic Program at the first-ever Winter Olympics in 1924. In 1988, a 3x10km team event was added to the Olympic Program. This was later changed to a 4x5km event. In 2008 the individual race format was changed too, shortening the race from 15km to 10km and from two jumps to one.

Who invented Nordic combined?

Similar to most Nordic ski disciplines, Nordic combined was invented by Scandinavian soldiers. In the early fifteenth century, the Swedish patrol army became the first to be equipped with cross country skis. Since then, soldiers started challenging each other to ski competitions to prove their physical power. Soon Norwegian soldiers started including ski jumping in their races, which gained popularity all across the country. This sport is still part of Scandinavian culture, as the Norwegian team continues to dominate events at the Winter Olympics.

Where did Nordic combined start?

Nordic combined started in Norway in the early eighteenth century, when the local soldiers started incorporating ski jumping into their cross country ski races. This quickly attracted the attention of the Scandinavian skiers, and the races were added to the local festivals. The first international Nordic Combined event took place in the Holmenkollen Ski Festival held in Oslo, Norway. Throughout the decades, despite the inclusion of this discipline to the Olympic Program, the Norwegian Nordic combined festivals have remained extremely popular.