Nordic combined is a unique sport, in so far as it's actually made up of two separate sports: ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
The competition has been contested at the Winter Olympics ever since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924, though no women's events have ever been added to the programme at the Games.
Top Nordic combined athletes at Beijing 2022
Eric Frenzel (GER) had an incredible performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics, cementing his status as one of the greatest Nordic combined athletes of all time. The German won a medal in every Nordic combined event - gold in the Gundersen normal hill/10km and team Gundersen large hill/4 x 5km, bronze in the Gundersen large hill/10km. Frenzel is the two-time defending Olympic champion in the Gundersen normal hill/10 km, though he finished fourth in the event at the 2021 World Championships. Even so, if the six-time Olympic medalist does qualify for Beijing 2022, it would take a brave person to bet against him reaching the podium again.
Akito Watabe (JPN) finished second to Frenzel in the Gundersen normal hill/10km at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games, so third time's the charm, right? Watabe won bronze in the Gundersen large hill/10 km at the World Championships, and fifth in the Gundersen normal hill/10 km - one spot behind his old rival Frenzel yet again.
Another name to keep an eye on in the normal hill/10km is Jarl Magnus Riiber (NOR). Riiber finished fourth in the event in PyeongChang, but he is the two-time defending world champion in both the normal hill and team normal hill/ 5km. He should be a serious contender to challenge Frenzel and Watabe in Beijing.
The Gundersen large hill/10 km competition has seen five different winners since its introduction to the Winter Olympic programme at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, so Johannes Rydzek (GER), who won gold in 2018, will have his work cut out for him to defend his Olympic crown. The German finished 17th at the 2021 World Championships, while youngster Johannes Lamparter (AUT) won the event, becoming the youngest world champion in 32 years in the process. Lamparter only joined the World Cup circuit in 2018, but given his performance at the Worlds (where he also won bronze in the Gundersen team normal hill/4 × 5km), he could soon become a star in the sport for the foreseeable future.
Four-time Olympic medalist Fabian Rießle (GER), who won silver in the event in PyeongChang, shouldn't be overlooked either.
Olympic Nordic combined schedule at Beijing 2022
The Nordic combined competition will take place from 9 February - 17 February 2022.
Olympic Nordic combined venue at Beijing 2022
The Nordic combined competition will take place at two venues in the Zhangjiakou cluster. The National Ski Jumping Centre will host the ski jumping portion of the competition, and the National Cross-Country Centre will host the cross-country element.
Olympic Nordic combined competition format at Beijing 2022
The Nordic combined competition at Beijing 2022 will feature three events:
Men's Individual Gundersen normal hill/10km
Men's Individual Gundersen large hill/10km
Men's Team Gundersen large hill/4x5km
All three Nordic combined events consist of a ski jumping competition and a cross-country skiing race. The 'Gundersen' refers to the Gundersen Method, which is used to determine a competitor's starting position for the cross country portion of each event following the ski jumping events, which always come first. Once the jumping points are totalled, they are converted into time penalties. So the winner of the ski jumping would start first in the cross-country, with the other competitions following according to the converted time differences.
The individual normal hill event consists of a scored ski jump on the normal hill and a 10km cross-country ski race.
The individual large hill event is contested with a ski jump on the large hill and a 10km cross-country race.
The team large hill event consists of one scored ski jump from the large hill and a cross-country relay 4x5km freestyle race.
Olympic Nordic combined history
Cross country skiing is the oldest type of skiing and has its origins in Norway. In fact, the word “ski” comes from the old Norse word “skid”, meaning a split length of wood. This form of skiing came from a need to travel over snow-covered terrain to chase game, gather firewood, and maintain social contact between isolated communities.
In 1892, the famous Holmenkollen ski festival debuted in Oslo, Norway, where the main attraction was the Nordic combined competition. The popularity of the festival soon attracted international skiers, and in 1924, the sport was introduced to the Olympic programme at the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France - where it has remained ever since.
Norway has dominated the competition, winning 31 medals (including 13 golds). The nation has been so dominant, in fact, that they have swept the podium in the normal hill event at four different editions of the Games. Their closest competitors are Finland and Germany (who had their own medal sweep in the large hill in PyeongChang), with 14 medals each, while Austria has 15 medals - but only three golds to Germany's five and Finland's four.
Felix Gottwald (AUT) is the most decorated Nordic combined athlete in Olympic history with seven medals (including three golds), though he could be passed for the top spot by Frenzel (six medals), if the German is able to win silver or gold in Beijing.