Thousands of spectators holding expensive tickets for events at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Saturday were left stranded at metro stations in Oslo, and missed the start of the action, if not all of it. Organizers had miscalculated how early the fans would show up, and couldn’t handle the crowds.
The organizers of what’s called Ski-VM in Norwegian had faced their first big test of how Oslo’s newly improved T-bane (metro) line would handle weekend crowds heading up to Holmenkollen. They utterly failed it, all because the fans holding tickets had done exactly what organizers had been telling them to do for weeks: They relied on public transport and showed up at the stations serving the line to Holmenkollen hours before events were to begin, only to face a lack of metro trains and thousands of other stranded spectators.
“It’s certainly not nice to be Norwegian today,” one woman who’d been waiting in the cold and sleet at the Majorstuen station for more than an hour told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I feel so sorry for all the foreign guests stuck in the same long lines at (the) National Theater (station), too.”
Another stranded passenger, Hans Oskar Svartedal, told NRK that he and his family left Lørenskog station at 8:02am. “Now it’s around 10am and the first events have already begun. There are some German visitors standing at the National Theater station who should have been at the Combined (jumping and skiing) event that started at 10, and they’re still standing there.”
Added another passenger: “This is embarrassing on Norway’s behalf.”
It was much worse at the Majorstuen station, where officials worried the throngs of people pushing their way onto the overcrowded platform would become dangerous. And ticket-holders were just as frustrated and angry.
“Here we’ve been told to take public transport to Holmenkollen, and it’s a complete breakdown,” one angry man told NRK.
T-bane spokesman Bjørn Rydmark said he and his colleagues were “in fact surprised” that passengers starting showing up much earlier than they had anticipated. “We thought it would be adequate with running express trains two-and-a-half hours before each event,” Rydmark told NRK. It wasn’t, and officials had to add bus service in an effort to handle the crowds.
Ski-VM officials were forced to “beklager på det sterkeste” (deeply apologize) for the long waiting times faced by passengers Saturday morning. “We have miscalculated how early we had to provide extra trains, as spectators were very good at coming early, earlier than we thought,” said Ski-VM spokesperson Nina Horn Hynne.
She said that T-bane officials would start operating extra trains much earlier on Sunday to handle crowds heading up to the events that start at 11:30am. There was no immediate word on whether any special refunds might be offered. Tickets for events at Ski-VM cost from USD 50-135 each.