The view from the tower on the Holmenkollen hill is tremendous. Behind us is the huge forest of Nordmarka, ahead is Oslo and the wide fjord. Below is the world’s most spectacular and famous ski jump.
The ski jump
The ski jump is part of a national sports arena with facilities for biathlon and cross-country as well, i.e. winter sports. Let me hastily add that coming here in even summer is not a bad idea at all. They have been staging competitions here since 1892, but the hill has been rebuilt no less than 19 times. My picture from 1988 below represents the “classical” layout of the tower and hill. This is basically how it was constructed for the Winter Olympics in 1952.
In 2010 the hill reopened after a couple of years of complete reconstruction. 1,000 tons of steel had been used to create the world’s only steel jump. A new tower had been built, new spectator stands, and cabins for media, referees and the Royal Stand. The most amazing part of the construction is probably the “wings” on both sides of the upper structure, providing shelter from the wind. The great open view from the tower has the disadvantage of being subject to changing wind directions and speed. The new steel wings are probably reducing the effect, thereby creating more stable and indiscriminate conditions for the athletes.
Holmenkollen’s main disadvantage is however the fog. It has ruined many competitions over the years. I remember once I was there: The jumpers were announced, the roar from tens of thousands spectators greeted them, we knew they were coming down the hill, but failed to see anything until they had landed more or less firmly at the bottom of the hill. It was great fun nonetheless, for the Holmenkollen Sunday is a big time event in Norway and in the world of ski jumping.
This week in May I stood on top of that tower, 60 metres above ground. I was looking down feeling relieved that there was no snow and that I had no skis on my feet. It is a long way to the bottom of the hill, and I would never have dared taken this challenge. Only the most daring jumpers win here and the record jump is 141 metres. I just enjoyed standing here, imagining what it would be like in a competition. I took the lift back down again.
Get there and see more
All tourist buses arrive here on a Oslo sightseeing tour, you can take the suburb train/metro to the Holmenkollen station and walk uphill, or you can bring your own car. Once here, you can’t miss it. The hill is a dominating construction, even visible from the centre of Oslo. I would suggest to take the metro all the way up the Frognerseteren, a wonderful restaurant with fascinating old buildings, and then walk down hill on gravel roads through the forest to Holmenkollen. You will pass Midstubakken on the way, another ski jump.
Anyway, once here at Holmenkollen, you will surely want to visit the Ski Museum. It is the country’s most visited museum and offers good exhibitions on the history of skiing in Norway – the cradle of skiing as the Norwegians themselves like to say. (Well, I’m Norwegian too…) If you want to there is a ski jump simulator here. It was closed during my visit, but I enjoyed the museum. There is public admission to the tower of the ski jump in daytime, but prepare for long queues. Unlike previously you don’t have to climb to get to the tower, there is an elevator sliding sideways up and down with glass windows and there is a good viewing platform on top.
Click to enlarge the following images: