Oslo officials could hardly have hoped for a better grand opening weekend for the new Holmenkollen winter sports complex. The sun came out, crowds turned up, early controversies seemed forgotten and Norwegian athletes grabbed more glory, at least on Saturday.
Norway’s royal family was out in full force for the action on Sunday, when the new Holmenkollen Ski Jump took center stage. While government ministers were off at a budget conference and missed all the celebration, King Harald and Queen Sonja arrived with Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette Marit and their three children Marius, Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus.
They didn’t get to see any Norwegians on the winners’ podium, with Simon Ammann of Switzerland winning the most points, followed by Holmenkollen veteran Adam Malysz of Poland and Andreas Kofler of Austria. But the crowd roared and Norwegian fans cheered as usual for everyone, even their own Bjørn Einar Romøren.
He had plunged the opening of Holmenkollen into controversy earlier this month when he made the first test jump off the long-awaited new landmark, and thus was widely viewed as cheating Anette Sagen (who’d been awarded the right of jumping first) out of the honor. Romøren instantly became persona non grata in Oslo, and was banned from last weekend’s World Cup competition.
He seemed forgiven on Sunday, the crowd cheered his jump and he ended as the best Norwegian in 7th place. Anders Bardal was next-best, in 11th place, and Anders Jacobsen third-best in 15th place. Romøren told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) later that he was so focused on the jumping that he really hadn’t thought much about his earlier offense, and was simply “incredibly satisfied” with the entire arrangement and his reception.
(Click here to see more photos from Holmenkollen Day.)
Nearly 30,000 spectators turned up for the last World Cup ski jumping event of the season, including large groups of foreigners. The Polish delegation, always an enthusiastic part of Holmenkollen festivities, was perhaps the largest, but fans from France, Japan, Austria and Sweden were well represented as well.
While it wasn’t a great day for Norwegian ski jumping itself, it was a memorable day for spectators, city and sports officials who have spent the past several years building the jump and paying for it. And Norwegian sports results at Nordic skiing events on Saturday made up for any disappointments on Sunday.
King Harald had been on hand Saturday as well, to not only see Marit Bjørgen win the women’s 30-kilometer race but also her Norwegian teammates place second and third. It was thus a pure Norwegian victory, with Bjørgen, Kristin Størmer Steira and Therese Johaug taking first, second and third place respectively (photo right, NRK).
The World Cup race means Bjørgen is ranked the number-one female skier in the world, after three gold medals at the recent Olympics and 35 World Cup victories. She also raved about the new Holmenkollen complex, calling it “fantastic” and that it made her “proud to be a Norwegian.”
(Click here to see a photo series of the old ski jump, and the new Holmenkollen emerging.)
Shortly after that victory, Norway’s Petter Northug confirmed his spot at the top of men’s Nordic skiing when he was first to cross the finish line of the men’s tough 50-kilometer race (photo). It also was lucrative for the 24-year-old from Mosvika in Nord-Trøndelag, winning him another NOK 81,000 in award premiums for around NOK 1.3 million in International Ski Federation awards this season.