The royal city of skiing gets its turn
Trondheim to host FIS World Nordic Championships in 2025
The Norwegian American
It’s Trondheim’s turn. Norway’s third largest and 1,000-year-old city, whose founder, Olav Tryggvason (968-1,000), was known as “the king of sport” and whose 14th century Nidaros Cathedral is the site of the coronation of kings, will bestow medals on the kings and queens of Nordic skiing as host to FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (WSC) Trondheim 2025.
Over 12 days, 650-700 athletes from 55-60 countries will compete in 24 competitions in men’s and women’s cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic Combined. Women’s Nordic Combined will be contested for the first time at the championships in 2021. Three hundred thousand fans and 2,500 volunteers are expected to attend. Trondheim’s population is 200,000.
Having lost out to Oberstdorf, Germany, in 2021, and Planica, Slovenia, in 2023, it was a foregone conclusion that Trondheim would get the honor in 2025, and the Norwegian city was the only bidder.
“We knew since May 2019 that we were the only one for 2025 and that we would get the WSC,” said Guri Knotten, head and CEO of the bid project Trondheim 2025, in an email. “Nevertheless, it was great to get it formally confirmed on Oct. 3. The message from FIS was that Trondheim was a great candidate.”
“This is a happy day for Norwegian skiing,” said Norwegian Ski Federation President Erik Røste in a press release on the federation website. “A World Championships will provide an upgraded facility in Granåsen that will inspire, delight, and ensure activity for many years to come…. The whole of ski-Norway has supported Trondheim as a World Cup applicant, and now the dream has finally come true. Together, we want to carry out a World Cup with a focus on sustainability, technology, sports enjoyment, and folk festivals.”
When Lillehammer hosted the Olympics in 1994, they promoted it as “The Compact Games,” with events held at three towns that formed a triangle, Lillehammer, Hamar, and Gjøvik. Trondheim is also using the moniker “The Compact Games” but for different reasons. “The venue is compact with the cross-country courses and the jumping hills situated side by side,” said Knotten. “All the disciplines are in the same venue and it is just 9 kilometers from the city center where the hotels and medal plaza are located.”
Trondheim wants to share its winter culture. Skiing can be traced back 1,000 years in the area, and tradition runs deep. Trondheim was the end point for the Birkebeiner skiers carrying the infant prince, Haakon, to safety in 1206. Technology as it relates to winter and snow has been developed here and is top-notch. The numerous ski clubs have produced champions Marit Bjørgen, Petter Northug Jr., Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (cross-country), Magnus Moan, Jørgen Graabak (Nordic Combined), Andreas Stjernen, and Anders Bardal (ski jumping). In Trøndelag alone, there are 167 ski clubs with 35,000 members, 3,000 of whom are competitive racers. Trondhjems Skiklub is one of the oldest in the world, having opened in 1884. In 2015, Granåsen hosted the first women’s Nordic Combined event.
The Landsem ski-making factory is among many in the Trøndelag region and is internationally renowned.
“We have collaborated well with the sport that wants to prioritize getting the World Cup to Trondheim,” said Mayor Rita Ottervik. “For the municipality, it has been just as important to have a good everyday facility that people can use for decades to come. Now we get both, and we will continue to collaborate with the sport to create a popular, environmentally friendly and fantastic World Cup in Granåsen. In short, the current World Cup experience. This will be fun.”
The World Cup experience. Fans camped out. Rose-colored faces, young and old, lining the tracks cheering, waving their Norwegian flags and cheering for everyone.
Ask Russian Yelena Vyalbe, who won the 10-kilometer cross-country pursuit in a photo finish at the 1997 Championships in Trondheim. “It is the people who stay in my memory rather than those moments from the competition,” she said in a video on the trondheim2025.no website. “I loved skiing when there were lots of people watching. Trondheim stood out in that respect. [They shouted] Lena! Lena! Elena! I actually felt the Norwegian people were cheering for me. They were living in snow caves along the ski tracks. They were always cheering us on, even during training. When you skied into the woods, you were never alone; there were always people around. I never felt like a stranger in Norway.”
“Athletes were cheered on even if they weren’t from Norway,” said Japanese ski jumping legend Masahiko Harada. “That made me love the locals. Trondheim is the holy land of Nordic skiing.”
“Ski sport and the Norwegian people, that is something special,” says legendary Norwegian cross-country skier Bjørn Dæhlie. “I think you will have record numbers of people.”
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 13, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.