Nordic combined is exactly that: a combination of the two discrete nordic-sport disciplines. There’s the cross-country side, which if you read FasterSkier regularly, you’re pretty comfortable with in terms of technique, gear, and the nuts and bolts of race dynamics. If you’re like me, the jumping side is a bit more foreign. I took the opportunity in this podcast episode to explore ski jumping.
For nordic combined competitions, it is the ski jumping portion that dictates the start order for the freestyle pursuit-style race. So to fully understand the discipline, and know why, for example, a skier starts one minute back from the morning’s ski-jump winner, I reached out to Bryan Fletcher, a 30-year-old old U.S. Nordic Combined Team veteran (he’s also a new dad), and Clint Jones, a former U.S. Ski Team jumper and currently a jumping coach and team director for USA Nordic, which encompasses nordic combined and ski jumping.
From those two we get a jumper’s perspective of a massive ski flying hill in Planica, Slovenia, and firsthand knowledge of jumping technique. Jumping may not be for the faint of heart, but understanding how it sets up the cross-country ski race after the jumps is critical to following nordic combined.
And when you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear Bryan Fletcher say this: “For me, I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie. I’ve done a lot of stupid adrenaline things in my life. And one of those is base jumping off of the bridge in Twin Falls, [Idaho]. And typically they recommend you have 100 sky dives before you ever go base jumping. Instead I spent two months learning how to pack a parachute, and then went and took six jumps off the bridge. And to give you perspective, base jumping I didn’t know anything about … However with ski jumping, you kind of have those rumors and commentary from other jumpers, I was more nervous getting on the bar of a ski flying hill for the first time than I was crawling over the railing of a bridge to base jump for my first time.”
You’ll also learn the difference between a ski flying hill — the type of jump Fletcher refers to in his base-jumping quote — and a regular, Olympic-style ski jumping hill. It’s always a good day to learn something new.
Click the play button to listen below.