Quiet start for ‘Ski-VM’ sales

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Organizers of the upcoming FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo (Ski-VM) started selling tickets for the February event on Wednesday, but crowds weren’t exactly breaking down the doors. Less than 20 prospective buyers were in line 15 minutes before sales began.

This was the scene outside Ski-VM's pavilion in downtown Oslo Wednesday morning, 15 minutes before tickets went on sale for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in February. PHOTO: Views and News

Despite all the hype normally associated with such grand sporting events, and the so-called folkefest (people’s party) they’re expected to generate, it seemed there were as many reporters, photographers and Ski-VM staff as general public at Wednesday’s opening event. A few skiing enthusiasts had turned up early, and brought their own chairs, but otherwise the scene was nothing like opening day for ticket sales at the Opera, when hundreds wait for hours to secure seats, and thus quiet by comparison.

So quiet, that Ski-VM staff actually had time to wander around and serve coffee to the few in line, as well as hand out free Kvikklunsj chocolate bars, which have been a traditional skiing snack in Norway for generations.

Ski-VM director Åsne Havnelid (in black) tried to drum up enthusiasm along with Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, who said he'd buy tickets to invite all of Norway's mayors to the skiing world championships. At far left, ski jumpers Anette Sagen and Line Jahr, who autographed tickets for the first 100 buyers. PHOTO: Views and News

Music played and the mayor turned up, along with a couple of top ski jumpers and a member of the Royal Guards who blew his horn to formally launch the sales. The director of Ski-VM (which stands for “ski verdensmesterskap” in Norwegian), Åsne Havnelid, tried to drum up some enthusiasm, saying she was glad “so many” turned out. Around 30 more had joined the line by the time doors opened at 11am.

Havnelid had predicted in newspaper Aftenposten earlier this week that the tickets would be in great demand, and announced that even her own staff and board members of the organizing committee would be required to buy their own tickets for the various events. She wants to give away as few tickets as possible.

Not surprising, given the huge expense of hosting the Nordic skiing World Championships. Oslo taxpayers already have paid nearly NOK 2 billion (USD 333 million) to re-build the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and adjacent arenas for the event and budgets have been broken repeatedly. There are no longer any free viewing areas across from the jump, following the disappearance of the traditional old gratishaugen (“the free hill”).

Ticket prices run from NOK 295 for the cheapest areas where spectators are expected to stand, to NOK 775 for bench seats in the open-air grandstand. Some areas along the ski runs in the forest, though, will be free and spectators will be allowed to pitch tents along the course. Ski-VM officials claim as many as 15,000 may do so.

All told, 200,000 tickets were made available during the 12-day run of the World Championships that begin on February 23 and run until March 6. Around 15 percent of the tickets were reportedly sold during the first day.

See related commentary: A question of priorities

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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