Nordic Combined and the Olympics
Nordic Combined reached international recognition from the first Winter Olympics in 1924 onwards and has been an Olympic discipline ever since. For the first 12 years, Norwegians won every available medal. In those pre-war years, the Nordic Combined gold medalist was often a top individual athlete in cross-country and ski jumping as well. In 1952, the jumping half of Nordic Combined was staged before the skiing for the first time and in 1956, the cross-country segment of the Nordic Combined was changed to 15km from 18km.
Finland and Sweden ended Norway’s dominance in the sport immediately after World War II, but the modern age really began in 1960 when a German, Georg THOMA, became the first non-Scandinavian to win gold in Nordic Combined at the Squaw Valley 1960 Olympic Winter Games in the United States.
The former German Democratic Republic’s (East Germany) Ulrich WEHLING captured three Olympic gold medals from 1972-80, becoming the first three-time winner of a particular Nordic skiing event.
A team event was added to the 1988 Olympic program. Teams consisted of three members who each made three jumps, with only the best two jumps of each athlete counting. The relay race was 3x10km. Since 1998, teams have comprised four members, who each make two competitive jumps that both count. The relay race is now 4x5km. For the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, a sprint event was added with one large hill jump and a 7.5km cross-country race.
For the 2008/09 season, the competition format was simplified and the events again consisted of a single jump (typically on large hill) followed by a 10km cross-country race. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games 55 athletes from 14 countries participated. The competition format was slightly changed from Torino 2006. In light of changes coming into the 2008/09 season, the sprint and Individual Gundersen events of 7,5 km and 15 km were replaced by two 10 km individual events, with one jump in each event, from the normal and large hills respectively. The team event was changed from two jumps to one jump per team member followed by a 4x5km relay cross-country race.
The formats stayed stable for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics where a tight race for the medals was on. German dominator Eric FRENZEL won the first gold medal from the normal hill while Norwegian newcomer Joergen GRAABAK had his first big international win and took the other available gold medal in the large hill competition. Two days later, GRAABAK made it two gold medals by also skiing to the victory in the team event with his teammates Magnus KROG, Haavard KLEMETSEN and Magnus MOAN.