Holmenkollen races to meet deadline

Bookmark and Share

Christmas has come early to organizers of the Nordic World Championships, which will be held in Oslo in 2011. They’ve convinced several major Norwegian companies to sponsor the huge and expensive event, as they race to get the new Holmenkollen Ski Jump ready in time.

After months of bad news — from stunning budget overruns for the new ski jump and concerns about finding sponsors — the organizers can relax at least a little bit during the Christmas holidays. They could even watch the last part of the main structure of the ski jump being hoisted into place late last month.

“I’m incredibly proud and glad that three of Norway biggest and most influential companies have joined the World Championships team,” Åsne Havnelid, chief of Oslo 2011, told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday.

Statoil, Norway’s largest company, has agreed to be the event’s main sponsor, committing EUR 2 million (around NOK 17 million) to support Oslo 2011. Industrial concern Aker Solutions and Norway’s biggest bank, DnB NOR, have also committed large sums to be major sponsors but Havnelid won’t say how much they’ll contribute.

Oslo 2011 will also get NOK 65 million from the international ski federation FIS to host the Nordic World Championships in 2011. Havnelid said it’s important, though, to have sponsor income to fund activities before and after Oslo 2011.

Statoil, which earlier sponsored Norway’s alpine skiing team, will also get broad exposure as a sponsor. The World Championships, a Statoil spokesman noted, are “much more” than an Oslo event, with potential for international television coverage.Construction of new facilities at Holmenkollen continues at a high tempo, with crews working day and night to get the site ready for trials in mid-March. Local authorities in Oslo must decide by January 10 whether the main Holmenkollen Ski Jump can be used by then. Work on the smaller Midstuen jump nearby has been pushed forward so that organizers can have a back-up alternative.

The old Holmenkollen Ski Jump dated from 1939 and had been modified as many as 15 times since, mostly in connection with the 1952 Winter Olympics when they were held in Oslo. The landmark was torn down to give way to a new jump that would meet new requirements tied to a World Championship.

The project has been marred by budget overruns and worries over the tight construction deadline. Environmentalists have also complained about damage, some of it unwitting, to local forest areas caused by bulldozing. Some neighbouring homeowners also have reported damage to their houses caused by blasting, and the city is required to make and finance repairs.