The history of Holmenkollen

History of Holmenkollen

At the heart of the Norwegian skiing traditions we find Holmenkollen. Its history stretches back more than 100 years.

Ever since the end of the 1800s, Holmenkollen and the surrounding area have drawn large crowds of Norwegian ski enthusiasts every winter. Skiing, be it cross country, alpine, or the jumping type, is enormously popular in Norway, which has led to a rapid development of the ski arena in Holmenkollen. Today this arena is home to some of the world's most famous winter sports events, including the Holmenkollen Ski Festival which is affectionately nicknamed "the second national day" of Norway.


1892-1931: Humble beginnings


The very first ski jumping competition in Holmenkollen took place in 1892 in front of a crowd of 12,000 people. Spectators could enjoy the 18 kilometre cross country event one day, and then a winning jump of 21.5 metres the next. A good ski athlete had to be able to perform well in both disciplines.

Holmnekollen from 1892 to 1931
Holmnekollen from 1892 to 1931
Photo: Thorkel Jens Thorkelsen/ Anders Beer Wilse/ Oslo Museum

For the first few years the ski jump was simply a natural hill with a takeoff ramp built from snow and twigs. As the 1900s progressed and the sport became ever more popular, the inrun, where the skiers start their descent, was gradually built taller with wooden scaffolding that allowed skiers to jump even further.


1950-1984: The Olympics, World Championships, and female ski jumpers


When Oslo was awarded the 1952 Winter Olympics, the arena was improved with a taller tower that included an elevator for the athletes. The Ski Museum moved in underneath the table where the jumpers start their flight, and the pond at the bottom of the hill was dug out to achieve greater jump lengths. Permanent spectator stands were built for the first time, as well as special stands for judges and the Norwegian royal family. The Olympic ski jumping competition this year drew between 120,000 and 150,000 spectators, a record that stands to this day.

Holmenkollen from 1951 to 1984
Holmenkollen from 1951 to 1984
Photo: Leif Ørnelund/ Oslo Museum/ Rüdiger Stehn

When the World Championships of 1966 and 1982 came around, Holmenkollen ski jump had gotten the characteristic architectural profile that has made it a famous landmark. Female athletes were also starting to gain access to the ski jump at this time, although they werent' allowed to compete just yet. In 1974, Anita Wold became the first woman to jump in Holmenkollen when she performed the opening trial jump of that year's ski festival.


2011: The new Holmenkollen


As part of the preparations for the World Championships of 2011, an architectural competition was held to find the best design for a state-of-the-art ski jump arena. JDS Architects won the competition with a modern new design that managed to maintain the famous Holmenkollen profile and ensured its continued status as a major landmark. This new design features two "arms" on both sides of the jump that serve as wind protection for the athletes and provide room for new judges' booths and a spectator room for the royal family.

The new Holmenkollen is the result of a long line of major expansions through the years, which have helped the sport develop from the pioneering jumps of 20 metres in 1892 to skiers regularly reaching 140 metres or more in today's arena.

Holmenkollen Ski Arena, World Championships 2011
Holmenkollen Ski Arena, World Championships 2011
Photo: VisitOSLO/ Yuri Sali


Activities in Holmenkollen

120 years of Holmenkollen

1892 - The first ever ski jump event in Holmenkollen. The longest jump is 21.5 metres.


1896 - E.C. Richardson becomes the first foreigner to jump in Holmenkollen.

1902 - The classic 50-km cross-country event is introduced.

1922/1923 - Norway's Crown Prince Olav participates in ski jumping.


1952 - The Olympic Winter Games are held in Oslo and the arena is expanded. A record number of spectators are present.


1954 - Female athletes compete in cross country for the first time.


1980 - Tom Levorstad lands a 105 metre jump becoming the first skier to jump further than 100 metres in Holmenkollen.


1982 - The ski jumping venue is equipped with an electronic measurement system.


2000 - Women can now participate in ski jumping.


2010 - The new Holmenkollen Ski Arena is built.

Watch ski jumping in the old days