Lillehammer, Norway – Winter Olympics 1994

Going to Lillehammer (three hours drive north of Oslo) always gives Norwegians good vibrations. This time kind of special to me, as we had my wife’s dad and his wife (here from the US to celebrate her birthday) visiting – a return of a favour from last fall when they took me to Lake Placid, NY. After that trip he said he had never seen a grown man so exited before. By taking him to Lillehammer, I wanted to show why. Winter sports and the Olympics is something that are near to Norwegians hearts and in 1994 it was a success, not only for the sports events, but because it was a blast of a folk celebration. 16 days in the loveliest winter weather in a small, charming and cosy town:

The city of Lillehammer (ski jump in the background).

The city centre is a well-preserved late 19th c. concentration of wooden houses, which enjoys a picturesque location overlooking the northern part of lake Mjøsa and the river Lågen, surrounded by mountains. The main street is excellent for people-watching, shopping and dining.

Main street of Lillehammer by day and night.

The area has been settled since the Norwegian Iron Age. It is mentioned in the old sagas as “Litlikaupangr” (‘the small trading place’) and as “Litlihamarr” (‘the small Hamar’ – to distinguish it from the town and the bishopric of Hamar). It is also mentioned as a site for council in 1390. It had a lively market by the 1800s, and obtained rights as a merchant city on August 7, 1827, at which point there were 50 registered residents within its boundaries.

Norwegian athletes were very successful in their home country. They won the most metals of any country. They won ten gold metals. Johann Olav Koss, a speed skater, set world records in three long-distance events. Visitors today can tour most of the facilities of the Olympic Park. Lillehammer opened an Olympics museum in 1998 to provide a history of the Olympics from 1896 to 1994 (some example pics):

Left: Winter Olympic flag from Oslo, Norway 1952
Right: Post from Lillehammer 1994

Lake placid – the only place hosting two winter Olympics!

I can’t give you a look back on 1994 without showing you the speed skating arena, the Viking Ship. We wanted to show the Norwegian heritage in architecture too of course. For those who haven’t read my post about these ships, please scroll down two posts or click here!

On the picture to the left (click all to enlarge!), you see the official banner for 1994. On top it symbols the Northern Lights and you can read more about that by clicking here!

The 1994 Games were extremely well organized and the Norwegian host’s natural love of winter sports added a refreshing purity of spirit. We have received much praise for the organization of the Olympics, its sportsmanship, and its hospitality. Athletes from sixty-six nations came to Norway in 1994 for the Seventeenth Winter Olympics and we never forget the words from (IOC) president J. A. Samaranch at the closing ceremony: ‘The best winter games ever!”. Then again Norwegian organizing committee’s slogan was: “They said we couldn’t do it, so we did”:-)

A very good friend reminded me of that Innsbruck, Austria also have hosted Winter Olympics two times; 1964 and 1976. Thanks TorAa – I never want to mislead my readers!