Olympics-Nordic Combined event at the Sochi Winter Games

Reuters

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Here are the main facts about the Nordic Combined event at this year's Winter Olympics.

The competition:

There are three events in Nordic Combined, which combines ski jumping and cross-country racing. It is the only Winter Olympic sport where women do not compete.

In the individual normal and large hill competitions, athletes take one jump and are judged on distance and style. They then move to a 10-km cross country track where the winner of the jumping section starts first. After a delay reflecting the gap in jumping scores the second best jumper is allowed to start and the procedure is repeated until everyone is racing. The first person to cross the finish line wins gold.

In the team event, four men from each nation take one jump from the large hill. The athletes then compete in a 4 x 5 km relay race, with initial starting times again determined by jumping performance, and the winner is the team whose fourth and final skier crosses the line first.

History:

The event first became popular in 19th century Norway and had been included in the Winter Olympics since they started in 1924. Only the individual normal hill was contested until 1988, when the team event was introduced. The individual large hill made its debut in 2002.

Norwegian athletes won every Nordic Combined medal in the first four Olympics from 1924 to 1936. In the 1960s and 1970s athletes from West and East Germany dominated before the Norwegians staged a partial comeback. Finnish, French, Austrian, Swiss and Japanese competitors have also won golds. In the 2010 Olympics the United States won four of the nine medals, making the podium for the first time.

The venue:

The events will be held at the brand new RusSki jumping centre in Esto-Sadok. There are two hills and a cross-country course carved into the side of the mountain that starts and finishes at the jumps, which mean spectators can stay in one place.

The contenders:

The favourites for gold include Germany's Eric Frenzel, 25, who won last season's World Cup and is the runaway leader this season. He also won the individual normal hill event at the 2011 world championships and the large hill title in 2013.

Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, 27, is the defending normal hill champion. He won the individual large hill World Championships in 2011 and the normal hill title in 2013.

Large hill Olympic champion Bill Demong of the United States is now 33 and something of an outsider. Other contenders are Akito Watabe of Japan and the Norwegian quartet of Haavard Klemetsen, Mikko Kokslien, Magnus Moan and Magnus Krog, who are third, sixth, seventh and eighth in the current World Cup standings. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Julien Pretot)

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