Holmenkollbakken is a large ski jumping hill located at Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway. It has a hill size of HS134, a construction point of K-120, and a capacity for 30,000 spectators. Holmenkollen has hosted the Holmenkollen Ski Festival since 1892, which since 1980 have been part of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup and 1983 the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup. It has also hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1930, 1966, 1982 and 2011.
The hill has been rebuilt 19 times; important upgrades include a stone take-off in 1910, an in-run superstructure in 1914, and a new superstructure in 1928. During the Second World War, the venue was used as a military installation, but upgraded in the late 1940s. Further expansions were made ahead of the 1966 and 1982 World Championships, as well as in 1991. From 2008 to 2010, the entire structure was demolished and rebuilt. As of 8 February 2011, the hill record is unofficially held by Anders Jacobsen at 142.5 meters. The official hill record was set at 5 of March 2011 by Andreas Kofler at 141 meters. The hill is part of Holmenkollen National Arena, which in addition to cross-country and biathlon venues has the normal hill Midtstubakken.
The first major skiing competition in Oslo was Husebyrennet, which was held in Husebybakken in Ullern from 1879 through 1891. In 1887, the road to Holmenkollen was opened, although it was at the time only used for recreation, as there was no housing in the area. I. C. L. Holm saw the potential to develop the area into a recreational center, and established Peisestuen in 1886, Holmenkollen Sportsstue in 1891, Holmenkollen Sanatorium og Turisthotell in 1894, and Voksenkollen Sanatorium in 1900.
During the 1910s it had become common in the United States to build jumps with a scaffold superstructure for the in-run, and this had been described as an abomination in the Norwegian press. Prior to the 1914 season, a 10-meter (33 ft) tall steel superstructure was built. This resulted in massive negative reactions in the press, and it was the public's opinion that ski jumping was to be done in natural hills. The same year, two other major Norwegian hills received similar structures, Nydalsbakken and Solbergbakken. The first trials were made on 15 January, giving jumps 34 meters. This was regarded as the furthest anyone would jump. The hill was subsequently expanded slightly a few times afterwards, including blasting it steeper, chopping it wider, and covering the landing slope with earth and sowing grass to improve the profile.
Holmenkollbakkken in 1917, after the first scaffold had been erected
The day after the race in 1927, the superstructure collapsed, caused by rot in combination with a heavy snowfall. This caused the introduction of public control with scaffolding and bleachers in Norway. By then, Holmenkollbakken was lagging behind internationally, and the world record at the time had exceeded 60 meters. It was therefore decided that a new superstructure would be 19 meters (62 ft) tall and moved 9 meters (30 ft) further back. Besserudkjernet was partially drained in 1928, but the hotels, which received their water from the lake, would not allow draining the following years. In 1931, the lake was fully drained, which allowed the out-run to be longer. In the 1930s, talk of an 80-meter hill started, which would potentially be built in Rødkleiva, further out in Nordmarka. The Association for the Promotion of Skiing made a formal investigation into the matter in 1937. There was agreement that the venue was becoming too small for international competitions.
Following the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 1940 being awarded to Oslo, the Association for the Promotion of Skiing decided to built a larger in-run. Construction started in 1938 and consisted of a 40-meter (130 ft) tall in-run tower. The take-off was moved 12 meters (39 ft) further back and 6 meters (20 ft) higher. The new structure was inaugurated in 1940, although the World Championships were canceled due to the Second World War. The venue was subsequently left unused for five years during the German occupation of Norway. German forced used the hill as a site for anti-aircraft artillery and the in-run was painted green. In 1945, the venue received a new upgrade, this time with new grandstands and a larger profile.
In-run in 1934, after the second scaffold had been erected
In 1948, Oslo was awarded to host the 1952 Winter Olympics. This caused a bonanza of plans, one superseding the other. Until then, the grandstand on the sides of the hill had been temporary; prior to the Olympics these were rebuilt as permanent. A new grandstand was built, a jury tower was constructed, as was facilities for the delegates, the royal family and radio broadcasting. The in-run was rebuilt; while it previously had been a mess of open, wooden structures, it was shelled in, painted white and received an elevator. The hill had to be expanded, and to allow this, the landing slope needed to be lifted by being built as an artificial structure. Below the lifted part of the hill was built a three-story building, with the ski museum in the lower two floors and a restaurant in the top floor. The lake was dug 6 meters (20 ft) deep and made a swimming pool during the summer. The upgrades cost NOK 1.5 million, paid for by Oslo Municipality. These upgrades resulted in an artificial lake being constructed in the off-run, which became a recreational and swimming venue for the city's residents. The lake was at the time 3 meters (9.8 ft) deep and had a typical temperature of 10 °C (50 °F). Oslo had a failed bid for the 1968 Winter Olympics.
Following Oslo's decision to bid for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 1966, it became evident that more upgrades would be needed to meet the International Ski Federation's requirements. To allow for longer jumps, the take-off needed to be moved 10 meters (33 ft) back, and the lake dug deeper, with new concrete stands being built into the sides. Combined with the tower being built taller, this gave a 56-meter (184 ft) height difference between the start and the off-run, allowing for the desired lengths. The championships were the first to use computer to calculate the scores, but communication still used wired telephones, as had been used during the Olympics. The public announcement and scoreboard systems remained manual.
The hill during the summer of 1975
By 1971, the Association for the Promotion of Skiing was no longer making much money off the Ski Festival, and they started discussing rebuilding the entire complex. Rolf Ramm Østgaard made a proposal which would include a twin hill, with both a normal and large hill. Again the proposal of building the large hill at Rødkleiva was launched. The arguments for keeping the hill at Holmenkollen was that it would allow for a close connection between the ski jumping and cross-country skiing events. However, Holmenkollen, because it was built with a superstructure, was plagued with wind. Experience from among other things Salpausselkä in Lahti, Finland, showed that this could be partially combated by building the jump into the hill. No immediate solution was found, and maintenance of the old structure continued. Lighting which allowed the venue to be seen from the city during night was installed in 1977. The main problem was the elevator, which was eventually replaced in 1978. During the 1970s, a stage was built in the lake, which allowed concerts, plays and other entertainment events to take place. Oslo City Council considered bidding for the 1980 Winter Olympics during the 1970s, but it was found that it would not be a suitable investment.
In 1979, Oslo was awarded the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 1982, and further upgrades to the hill were necessary. The costs of the upgrades were NOK 50 million, of which the Norwegian Ski Federation paid NOK 5 million, and Oslo Municipality and the state split the rest. The large expenditures resulted in a public debate. The upgrades saw the introduction of electronics into most parts of the venue. The old system of manual distance measurement by people standing beside the hill was abolished, and replaced by the video-based system Robotron. Other new installations was an electronic result and scoreboard system, a new time-keeping and speed system, and a new central system to calculate scores. The in-run was expanded, and a mobile start platform was installed, but later removed and replaced by a bar. The knoll and landing slope were adjusted, and the straight section was moved 10 meters (33 ft) further down. In the transition to the out-run, 130,000 cubic meters (4,600,000 cu ft) of earthwork was blasted away, and Besserudkjernet was sunk another 7 meters (23 ft). This allowed for additional grandstands to be built and the last wooden grandstands were removed. New structures were built for delegates, broadcasting and the jury.
In 2002, the Association for the Promotion of Skiing and the city started the process of applying for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009. The city council decided to grant NOK 52.8 million to upgrade Holmenkollen, including Holmenkollbakken, for the 2009 World Championships. Oslo lost the vote in the International Ski Federation (FIS) against Liberec, Czech Republic, on 4 June 2004. The Norwegian Ski Federation subsequently stated that they would apply for the 2011 World Championships. The Association for the Promotion of Skiing stated that they wanted a new hill in Rødkleiva instead of expanding the existing ski flying hill in Vikersund, Vikersundbakken. Holmenkollbakken would then be used for the last time during as a large hill during the 2011 World Championships, and would then converted to a normal hill. In May 2005, the general assembly of the Norwegian Ski Federation voted to build a new ski flying and normal hill in Rødkleiva ahead of the 2011 World Championships. Following Vikersundbakken being awarded the FIS Ski-Flying World Championships 2012 in 2008, the general assembly of the Norwegian Ski Federation that year decided to terminate the plans for a ski flying hill in Rødkleiva.
On 22 September 2005, FIS stated that an all-new Holmenkollbakken would have to be built if Oslo was to host the World Championships and World Cup tournaments. FIS stated that similar reconstructions had been done with Schattenbergschanze in Oberstdorf, Germany, and Bergiselschanze in Innsbrück, Austria. In December 2005, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage gave permission for the tower to be demolished, on the condition it was replaced by a new in-run with a similar architectural quality and retain its function as a landmark. They stated that it was the activity itself that is worthy of preservation, not the structure itself. The city council made the final decision to apply for the World Championships and build a new hill on 1 March 2006. A new hill was at the time estimated to cost NOK 310 million, and the state was willing to finance NOK 70 million of those. Oslo was awarded the 2011 World Championships in May 2006.
The municipality issued a architectural design competition to rebuild the hill; Julien De Smedt's proposal was selected among 104 entrants. At the time, it was estimated that the new national arena would cost NOK 653 million. Demolition of Holmenkollbakken started on 16 October 2008. The World Cup tournament in 2009 was held at Vikersundbakken instead of Holmenkollen because of the reconstruction. When the decision to reconstruct the national arena was made by the city council in 2007, it was estimated to cost NOK 653 million. By 2008, the cost had accelerated to NOK 1.2 billion, and by the following year it had reached NOK 1.8 billion. City Commissioner For Business and Culture, Anette Wiig Bryn of the Progress Party, had to leave her position because of the cost overruns. A consultant report ordered by the municipality concluded that the pressure to find cost savings to stay within the budget, which was underestimated to start with, resulted in slower progress, which again resulted in higher costs.
The costs of the new large hill were NOK 715 million, while total costs for the upgrade of the national arena and infrastructure ended at NOK 2,426 million. This included the construction of a new ski stadium next to Holmenkollbakken, and Midtstubakken, and upgrades to the Holmenkollen Line. It was originally decided that the first jump would be taken by Anette Sagen, Norway's leading female jumper, on 3 March 2010. However, the organizers decided that Bjørn Einar Romøren would be allowed to test-jump the venue the evening before. in the first ever jump in the new venue, Romøren jumped 110.0 meters. The organizers stated that Sagen's jump the following day, which reached 106.5 meters, was to be considered the official first jump. Romøren was subsequently suspended from the following World Cup round.
Construction of the Ski Jump:
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