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I'm watching the Winter Olympics on television here in the U.S. I don't know too much about winter sports, especially the nuances of Olympic competition. However, watching the downhill skiing competition, the commentary regarding slope conditions suggests that the slope itself can be the difference in the sport.

The other night, I was watching ski jumping, and they had wind speed factored into the score. Why is this not a part of the scoring? Does the Olympic committee have oversight of rules, or are those defined per sport?

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Each discipline has their own scoring system. Since wind has a huge impact on the performance of ski jumpers it has been added as scoring criteria as well as the gate the jumpers start from. This is to compensate for (dis)advantages under different situations.

  • The gate determines the jumping speed (higher gate = more distance on the runway = more time to accelerate)
  • Head- or upwind is an advantage as it pushes the jumper upwards and they can travel further while tailwind does the opposite.

The compensation score makes up for both.

Some basic scoring info:

The scoring system combines distance with style points, recorded by five judges. Each jumper gets a trial jump and two scored jumps. (Only the top 30 from the first round make it to the second round in World Cup and Continental Cup events). A wind and gate compensation system is utilized as well in World Cup, World Championships, and Olympic Games events.

The downhill competitions don't rely on wind that much. If it's too strong the whole competition will be postponed (they actually did that), so no athlete will have (dis)advantages due to different conditions. In downhill the piste is much more important and of course the weather altogether:

  • snow condition (fresh snow, icy ground, melting snow, etc...)
  • weather (is it sunny, foggy, raining,.. how far athletes can see, impact on the piste (see above), and so on)
  • Is headwind blowing into their back or into their faces? Great answer though. – Andre Feb 13 '18 at 15:29

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