Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Above It All In Oslo

If you are a skier, you may recognize this perilous looking structure made of concrete and steel. The Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo, Norway is famous in the ski jumping world as the site of many World Cup competitions and the Oslo Winter Olympics in 1952.

The first ski jumping competition took place here back in 1892, when they used branches covered in snow to add some height to an already existing hill. Technology has come a long, long way since then and the Holmenkollen ski jump has gone through 18 subsequent renovations. This latest structure was built in 2010 and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Oslo, no matter what the season. It's open to the public year round and you don't need a racing bib or a crash helmet to take the elevator to the viewing platform at the top.

Admission to the ski jump includes a visit to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, the oldest of its kind in the world. The museum has been open since 1923 and showcases 4,000 years of skiing history. You'll see primitive wooden skis dating back to 600 AD alongside the high tech super lightweight skis used by world class athletes today.

The highlight for the little C&Gs had to be the diorama of the moose, complete with realistic droppings in the snow. We learned that poop is the same in English as it is in Norwegian from the young Norwegian boys giggling their way through the exhibit.

A documentary on the northern lights is new since our visit to the museum and showcases a natural phenomenon that most of us will never see. Also included in the exhibit are stories and artifacts from various polar expeditions, because you can't have a museum in Norway without referencing the race to the Poles.

After you've worked your way through the museum take the elevator up to the jump tower for a spectacular view overlooking Oslo and the fjords beyond. Exit the elevator and climb a few more stairs to visit the jump platform. Take a deep breath and work your way over to the very edge of the jump and get a feel for what world class skiers see just before they leap into the abyss.

But don't panic (easier said than done), there's a very solid metal gate preventing you from tumbling down almost 200 feet to the bottom. Big C&G stood there pretending the stands below were filled with cheering crowds while I barely made it long enough to snap the photo to the left. If your crew really wants to experience the jump (without lugging your gear or qualifying for the elite championships) don't miss the simulator back down at ground level where you can "try" it yourself for an extra charge.

Holmenkollen is about a 30 minute ride outside of Oslo on public transportation. Take the Metro #1 towards Frognerseteren and get off at the Holmenkollen stop. The tram winds through some lovely neighborhoods so sit back and enjoy the view. Don't worry about missing your stop, you'll see the giant ski tower out your window as you get closer. From the tram stop it's a ten minute hike uphill to the park.

The admission fee of 250 NOK ($40 US) gets your family in to the jump tower and to the museum. Individual tickets are 110 NOK ($18 US) for adults and 55 NOK ($9 US) for children. The ski simulator is extra, 50 NOK for a five minute full sensory experience similar to what pilots and astronauts use for their training. But there isn't enough money in any currency that could get me to step into that thing.

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