Nordic combined is one of the Winter Olympic sports which has been on the programme since the first Games in 1924, involving both ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
As is suggested in the name, the sport originated in Norway and that is also the country which has dominated the Olympic competition, with 31 medals in total - 17 ahead of nearest challengers Germany.
But the most decorated athlete in the sport’s Olympic history is not Norwegian - Austria’s Felix Gottwald has seven medals including three golds, but Germany’s Eric Frenzel could overtake that record in Beijing.
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Despite Norway’s heritage, it was Germany who cleaned up at the Pyeongchang Games, with Frenzel winning gold in the normal hill and team event, and Johannes Rydzek taking the large hill title. Norway have come back well since then, winning half of the men’s events at the 2021 World Championships - as well as the women’s event, which is not included in the Olympic programme.
There are three separate events on the Olympic Nordic combined programme, all of which are men’s competitions. Two of these are individual - one involving the big hill ski jump and the other being the normal hill, both of which then take in a 10km cross-country race. The other is a team event which uses the large hill and then a 5km cross-country race each.
The ski jumping competition involves one attempt on either the large or normal hill. The distance is converted to points, which will then set the starting positions for the cross-country, with athletes setting off in time penalty intervals - so the athlete who has jumped the furthest will start first, and the one who jumped the smallest distance will start some way off them. For example, at Pyeongchang 2018 in the large hill competition, the athlete who jumped the shortest distance started 7 minutes and 36 seconds behind the leader.

Frenzel takes Large Hill title in Seefeld

Nordic combined participants & medal prospects

There will not be any Team GB athletes in the Nordic combined, but Germany’s Eric Frenzel is looking to make history in Beijing. If he wins both of his events, the 33-year-old would become the outright most successful Olympian in his sport.
Frenzel won the normal hill competition in Pyeongchang, as well as the team event, but finished fourth at the World Championships. There, Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber won gold - and he will be looking to follow that up in Beijing.
Akito Watabe of Japan has finished second behind Frenzel at each of the last two Games and will be looking to go one better, while Austria’s Johannes Lamparter became the youngest world champion in 32 years recently by winning the large hill competition and will be hoping to repeat the trick.

Nordic combined events & format

There are only three events in the Nordic combined - two of which are individual and one is a team competition. They are:
  • Men's Individual Gundersen normal hill/10km
  • Men's Individual Gundersen large hill/10km
  • Men's Team Gundersen large hill/4x5km
The ‘Gundersen’ element refers to the scoring method, in which the ski jump sets the starting positions for the cross-country.

Who won the last Olympic gold in Nordic combined?

Germany’s Eric Frenzel won double gold at Pyeongchang 2018 - the individual normal hill/10km as well as the team large hill/4x5km with Vinzenz Geiger, Fabian Riessle and Johannes Rydzek.
Rydzek also claimed the title in the individual large hill/10km.

Nordic combined rules

Ski jumping always goes first, with each athlete having one attempt down either the normal or large hill. The distance is converted to points, which then translate to a time - the athlete who jumps furthest will start first, with their rivals starting at time intervals behind them determined by their jump distances. The first to cross the line is the winner.

Why do skiers start at different times during Nordic combined?

This is because the ski jumping competition sets when athletes will start the cross-country competition - their distances are essentially converted into times. This means that the best jumper is rewarded with a head start.
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