City officials have rolled out prospects for a Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway (home of Team Gasse’s Tor Staubo) in 2022 that would cost at least NOK 2o billion (USD 3.6 billion) and spur major redevelopment of the city’s semi-industrial northeast side. It would also play heavily on the success of the 1994 Olympics at Lillehammer, re-using facilities built in that area for alpine and bobsledding events.
That breaks from the plan to keep Oslo’s so-called “Games in the City” project located in or around the Norwegian capital. It takes around two- to three hours to drive or take the train to Kvitfjell in the mountain valley known as Gudbrandsdalen, but many sports officials hailed the decision to use the downhill and slalom slopes there that also still are frequently used in World Cup competition.
The main alternative had been to locate the alpine skiing events at Norefjell, another popular alpine skiing center much closer to Oslo that also was used in the Winter Olympics of 1952. Norefjell promoters were disappointed, but both sports bureaucrats and Lillehammer officials were relieved.
“Norefjell was an exciting prospect, but we have chosen the Lillehammer area,” said Oslo city government leader Stian Berger Røsland. “We also think the good reputation of the Olympics in 1994 can be important.”
All the other Olympic events are planned for the Oslo area with only the adjacent township of Bærum allocated a venue for major competition (figure skating at the Telenor Arena at Fornebu) and Lørenskog just northeast of Oslo getting the curling competition.
Otherwise the Oslo organizers plan to have ski jumping and Nordic skiing events in the hills at Holmenkollen, as expected, with freestyle and snowboard events at Wyllerløypa and Grefsenkollen, biathlon at Linderud on the city’s east side, ice hockey in new arenas to be built at Stubberud and Jordal and speed skating in a rebuilt arena at Valle Hovin. The plans would allow for what city officials believe are badly needed new skating facilities in Oslo.
“All of this is what Oslo needs even without an Olympics,” Ola Elvestuen, the city government official in charge of sports, told newspaper Dagsavisen.
Opening and closing ceremonies would either be held at Norway’s national football stadium at Ullevål or at a new stadium at Bjerke or on the Ekeberg plateau, both on the east side. An Olympic Village to house athletes along with a media center are planned for Kjelsrud, Breivoll and Økern, also in the eastern urban area known as Groruddalen.
A major rival for Oslo dropped out last week as a potential host site, when voters in St Moritz and Davos, Switzerland decided they didn’t want to move forward with an expensive Olympic project. “That increases our chances,” claimed Eli Grimsby, who’s heading the Olympic project for Oslo. Others view the Swiss rejection as a warning that Oslo should be careful about taking on such an expensive project as well, but Grimsby claims “this isn’t just an event that will last for 14 days. It will benefit Norwegians all over the country both before and after the Winter Games. In terms of health and activities, we’ll start four years before the games and continue afterwards.”
Oslo tourism officials and hotel operators like Petter Stordalen were predictably positive to the Olympic prospects. “I think this will be a fantastic possibility for Oslo,” Stordalen told DN. “I just hope it leads to construction of new arenas like they’re building in Stockholm even without an Olympics.” He sees benefits from economic and real estate development, and new facilities that could attract more international conferences and other visitors in the future.
Source: www.newsinenglish.no; Nina Berglund; March 7, 2013.