Why Ski Jumpers Use That “V” Formation Instead Of Holding Skis Straight

Ski Jumpers

Ski jumpers held their skis in a tight parallel position beneath their body with their arms up and hands near their faces. This was considered “elegant,” which is important because judges award points for style as well as distance. This straight line was pretty much the standard until the 1988 Winter Games when Swedish ski jumper Jan Boklov struggled to keep his skis in the parallel position. He noticed if he opened them to form a “V” shape, he was able to gain more distance. In other words, he was creating lift, which fights gravity as air moves over the body and follows its shape.

Ever-resistant to change, the sport mocked this position as “ugly” and Boklov actually lost style points to Dennis McGrane, who traveled the same distance but in the classic formation. Despite Boklov’s loss, athletes began to take notice, and by the time Toni Nieminen from Finland won gold in 1992 with the V style, the revolution was finished.

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