Like most of the Nordic skiing disciplines, the first ski jumping competitions were held in Norway in the 19th century, although there is evidence of ski jumping in the late 18th century. The recorded origins of the first ski jump trace back to 1808, when Olaf Rye reached 9.5 m (31 ft). Sondre Norheim, who is regarded as the "father" of the modern ski jumping, won the first-ever ski jumping competition with prizes, which was held in Høydalsmo in 1866.
The first larger ski jumping competition was held on Husebyrennet hill in Oslo, Norway, in 1875. Due to its poor infrastructure and the weather conditions, in 1892 the event was moved to Holmenkollen, which is today still one of the main ski jumping events in the season.
In the late 19th century, Sondre Norheim and Nordic skier Karl Hovelsen immigrated to the United States and started developing the sport in that country. In 1924, ski jumping was featured at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. The sport has been featured at the every Olympics since.
Ski jumping was brought to Canada by Norwegian immigrant Nels Nelsen. Starting with his example in 1915 until the late 1960s, annual ski jumping competitions were held on Mount Revelstoke — the ski hill Nelsen designed — the longest period of any Canadian ski jumping venue. Revelstoke's was the biggest natural ski jump hill in Canada and internationally recognized as one of the best in North America. The length and natural grade of its 600 m (2,000 ft) hill made possible jumps of over 60 m (200 ft)—the longest in Canada. It was also the only hill in Canada where world ski jumping records were set, in 1916, 1921, 1925, 1932, and 1933
In 1935, the origins of the ski flying began in Planica, Slovenia, where Josef Bradl became the first competitor in history to jump over 100 m (330 ft). At the same venue, the first official jump over 200 m (660 ft) was achieved in 1994, when Toni Nieminen landed at 203 metres.
In 1964 in Zakopane, Poland, the large hill event was introduced at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. In the same year, the normal hill event was included on the Olympic programme at the 1964 Winter Olympics. The team event was added later, at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
In 1990, qualifiers for the main event were introduced to limit the number of competitors.