Innovations in Nordic SportPosted: November 23, 2011
I grew up in Finland where winter sports are huge. Several winter sports saw quite significant transformations while I was following them in the late 80s. One was skijumping, the other cross-country skiing.
In skijumping one of the big rivalries during the 1988-1989 season was between Sweden’s Jan Boklov and Finland’s Matti Nykanen. Nykanen was a skijumping phenom – by the late 80s he was a veteran who had already won four previous world cup titles. But Boklov introduced a style of skijumping that radically changed the physics and even aesthetics of the sport. His V-style jumps carried him further and eventually led to a “paradigm shift” of sorts in the sport (judges at first discounted the technique, to an extreme). “Style” points were quite important in skijumping (see Nykanen’s style versus Boklov’s style in the clip below). But the “uglier” V-style eventually had to be integrated given its clear superiority. The V-style, introduced by Boklov (and a few others) in the late 80s, is now the exclusive approach in skijumping.
A similar, stylistic innovation also radically shaped cross country skiing. Traditional cross country skiing was largely about a gliding motion on an established track. But in the 70s and 80s it became increasingly clear that “skating” was actually a far better and faster approach to skiing (the Finn Pauli Siiltonen apparently gets some credit, though the technique was used by many in different forms). The skating technique, by the late 1980s, led to the creation of two separate sports: classic cross country and skate skiing (separate events in the olympics as well).
There you go: a bit of random trivia you might need in Trivial Pursuit, or to impress your friends over Thanksgiving dinner or if you need a sporting-related example for a class discussion.