At a World Cup event in Vikersund on February 14 2015, Slovenian ski jumper Peter Prevc swooped from the Vikersundbakken hill at Norway and the jump took him to a breathtakingly long world record breaking distance of 250 meters. No one in the history of ski-jumping had ever crossed 250 meters and for the past 4 years the record had stood in the name of Norway’s Johan Remen Evensen, who had covered a distance of 246.5 meters at the same venue in March 2011. An elated Slovenian gloated in the achievement especially because he was the first non-Scandinavian since Poland’s Malysz in 2003 to write his name in the record books. In another coincidence, Peter Prevc suffered from the same fate as Malysz. The pole was so unfortunate that his 225 meter achievement lasted only about 6 hours and Finland’s Matti Hautamaki broke the record on the same day on March 20 2003. Hautamaki improved the record twice more over the next 2 days to finish at 231 meters on March 22, 2003. Like Malysz, Prevc didn’t get a chance to celebrate his achievement, when his best efforts were eclipsed by Norway’s Anders Fannemel in a space of just 24 hours.
Ski jumping is a winter sport that originated in Norway. For three centuries, amateur jumpers have been practicing the sport all over the world with Scandinavia being a focal point of many world records. Modern day participants compete on length and style from ski jumping locations, of which Norway and Slovenia offer the best vantage points. Until a while ago, length coverage was secondary to style in ski-jumping. But modern ski-jumping with its rules designed by International Ski Federation, FIS has benchmarked the length as a measure of superiority without sacrificing style. However, FIS is not in favor of bigger hill sizes and therefore no world records have ever been set in Olympics, Nordic World Ski Championships, Holmenkollen Ski Festival or Four Hill Tournaments. From Norway, ski-jumping spread to Slovenia, Austria, Finland, USA and Canada. In 1901, a scoring system for distance was introduced. Subsequently, more extreme sky-flying came with the construction of an artificial hill in Yugoslavia’s Planica resort. In 1936 Austria’s Josef Bradl became the first jumper to reach the 100 meter mark and the 200 meter was breached by Finland’s Toni Nieminen.
To qualify, the jump must be made in a sanctioned competition, or official trial or qualification runs with a system to control the actual length. To win a competition, a jumper needs to cover a distance in style. In ski-jumps, style is achieved by attaining a specified way of landing. Therefore, jumpers are not encouraged to achieve the distance alone but do so to get a good landing. A jump would become invalid if the jumper falls or touches the ground with hands or part of the body before reaching the fall line. Originally, jumps were measured in alen or aln, which is the traditional Scandinavian unit of distance, similar to the German elle. Danish and Norwegian alen equal 62.77 centimeters, while the Swedish alen was 59.38 centimeters. But now alen has been replaced by meters and an accuracy of half-meter prevails in most competitions with cameras being used for measuring landing distances.
In Vikersund on February 14 2015, when Prevc of Slovenia became the first ski-jumper to cross 250 meters, he floated in air for an eternity and covered the distance of 2.7 football fields but next day he was robbed off his record, when 23-year old Norwegian Anders Fannemel did even better. Fannemel bettered the record by 1.5 meters to make it 251.5 meters with the best ski-jump of his life.
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