It’s hard to believe the massive construction zone around Holmenkollen, in the hills above Oslo, will be transformed into ultra-modern ski jumps ready for action by March. Officials insist they will be, in spite of — or perhaps because of — huge budget overruns.
The city official who resigned in August when the budget overruns were revealed finally broke her silence last week. Annette Wiig Bryn told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that she had no idea how quickly costs were building up, nor just how massive those costs were.
They amounted to NOK 600 million more than the already-huge budget for the project that was controversial itself: NOK 1.2 billion (about USD 210 million).
Construction of the new Holmenkollen and Midtstubakken ski jumps, due to be ready in time for the Nordic World Champions in 2011 and the preliminaries in March, turned into a huge drain that cost Wiig Bryn her job.
She retreated immediately after the overrun became public, and refused to comment until last week.
She linked her silence to the parliamentary election campaign that was going on at the time, and said she didn’t want her party (the conservative Progress Party) to get dragged into it any more than necessary.
She insists she “took responsibility” by resigning and wishes she could have done something different, but isn’t sure what that would have been.Meanwhile, officials now in charge insist the ski jumps and other new facilities will be ready by March 12, when preliminary events will be held. Around 300 construction workers are working day and night at the site.
The new Holmenkollen Ski Jump will have room for as many as 60,000 spectators. The 120-meter jump is being built in eight sections, with the highest to be in place by mid-November. A new chairlift will ferry jumpers to the top, meaning they no long will have to climb stairs as they did at the old Holmenkollen.
The neighbouring Midstubakken jump, for jumping up to 95 meters, is rising just below Holmenkollen, along with new ski trails, a biathlon arena and support facilities from the royal box to judging and press quarters.The Nordic World Championships will held in Oslo from February 24 to March 6, 2011. They’re expected to attract 650 athletes from 60 countries, competing in jumping, cross-country skiing and combined events.