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How Big Is Gunstock's Ski Jump?

Dec 06, 2015 11:55PM ● Published by Ryan Frisch

Over the years, the way ski jumps have been measured—and thus named—has changed. For example, the 60-meter jump at Gunstock is now called the 70-meter jump, although it’s really an 87-meter jump by international ski jumping standards.

Beginning in 2004, the official size of a ski jump became based on its “hill size,” which is the distance from the take-off to the knoll at the top of the landing hill plus the length of the downhill portion of the landing hill. (Out-runs turn up at the end to help stop a jumper’s forward momentum.)

For several decades prior to 2004, ski-jumping hills were named for their “construction point,” known more commonly as the “K-point” or “critical point.” The K-point is at the steepest point (a 35-degree pitch) about two-thirds of the way down on the out-run, just before it begins to flatten out. During competition, it’s marked with a red line. The size of the jump was named for the distance from the take-off point to the K-point. For example, if the distance was 90 meters, then the jump was called a 90-meter jump.

During Torger Tokle’s era, jumping hills were measured from the take-off to “perfect point” or “P-point.” In the early days of ski jumping, athletes launched into the air, stalled, and dropped. (Today jumpers are more like human airplane wings, riding on the “lift” created under their skis.) P-point was the design point in the hill that allowed for a comfortable, safe jump. If jumpers consistently went farther than P-point, the start on the ramp was moved down, and the competition started over.

Most ski jumps in the United States are still commonly named for their K-point. In Gunstock’s case, the 70-meter jump was originally called a 60-meter jump based on its P-point. When it reopens, it will be a K-87 or 87-meter jump. The 10-meter jump is really a K-18 or 18-meter jump. The 20-meter jump is a K-26, and the 40-meter jump is a K-50. Get the point?

By Lisa Densmore Ballard

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