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Since visiting Calgary Olympic Park and seeing their exhibit on ski jumping within the ski jumping tower, I've wanted to have a go at the sport.

Do you have to be good at downhill skiing to start ski jumping as an adult? If so, which aspects of it are important?

Also, is it a sport where you can practice each day during a week-long vacation, or is it too intensive a sport on the body for that to be viable?

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1  
Good luck! I wish I had the curage for this :-) –  Tonny Madsen Mar 29 '12 at 19:28
    
Added ski-jumping tag - seems a bit distinct from regular skiing. :) –  JW8 Mar 30 '12 at 17:12
    
Like parachuting, why would you jump off a perfectly servicable mountain? –  geoffc Apr 2 '12 at 2:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Some excerpts from this Yahoo article:

You must be comfortable skiing fast and in-control. Some downhill skiers enjoy going down the hill at a leisurely pace and balk at the thought of going fast. If you're not comfortable speeding down a hill while maintaining your control, ski jumping might not be for you. Speed isn't much of an issue when you're first starting out, but when you progress to the higher ramps (40-meter and up), you will need to feel comfortable skiing at a fast pace-sometimes up to 30 miles per hour-to work up enough momentum.

Ski jump lessons are for all ages. Most ski jump areas give lessons for ages 5 and up. In my adult-only class, there were about six other beginning ski jumpers, including a 62 year old lady who was taking ski jump classes with her 19 year old grandson!

You will start out on a tiny ramp. Beginning ski jumpers don't climb to the top of that big, scary ramp and hurl themselves down, catapulting themselves into midair-they work their way up to it. I started out on a 10-meter jump, which is very common ramp height for first-time ski jumpers. Don't let the height scare you away! The 10-meter measurement refers to the distance a skier can get from the jump, not its height. The 10-meter jump is only a few inches high-you're barely off the ground. As your skill level improves, the instructor will move you to steeper and higher ramps. The instructor will never move you to a hill that's too dangerous for your ability.

A 2002 article shares some information about how Mitch Kaplan learned to ski jump at Olympic Park in Park City, Utah:

They call the program Public Ski Jumping, and anyone who can downhill ski at an intermediate level or better is invited to join. You use your own skis and boots; the Park rents helmets. "In two hours, we have beginners jumping off the 18-meter jump."

The author notes that his group starts off practicing on small snow bumps, before graduating to a 10-meter ramp and ending at an 18-meter ramp.

You will need to be comfortable with downhill skiing (in a straight line at high speeds) in order to have enough momentum for good jumps. If you're starting out on the smaller beginner's ramps, multiple jumps per day shouldn't be too tough on the body (depending on your physical condition).

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From what I know, from being on holiday in skiing countries, there are a few "beginner" jumps in most ski resorts. Baby jumps.

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Are they ski jumping style jumps, or more like terrain park style jumps? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 30 '12 at 0:04
    
Ski jumping, maybe about 10 meters long with a small run-off for landing. –  Danger Fourpence Mar 30 '12 at 11:14
    
Thanks. Was this in continental Europe, or Scandinavia? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 30 '12 at 12:40
    
It was continental Europe. I can't remember exactly where, but I've visited France, Austria, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and I know I've seen them more than once. –  Danger Fourpence Mar 30 '12 at 14:46

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