(ATR) Lillehammer reached the gold standard for keeping venues in use after an Olympic Games and the YOG will expand on that legacy.
Lillehammer 2016 ski jumps as seen from the town. (ATR)
When tourists come, Hans Rindal, CEO of Lillehammer Olympiapark AS, tells Around the Rings
. “They expect to see the venue, not see somebody jumping in the middle of summer.”
Actually, Rindal says, there are more ski jumps in the summer – on plastic – than in the winter on snow at the venue which can easily be seen from the town.
Lillehammer Olympiapark AS owns and runs the Olympic arenas in Lillehammer: Håkons Hall (and surrounding halls), the Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena, the Birkebeineren Ski and Biathlon Stadium, the Lillehammer Olympic Bob and Luge Track and the Kanthaugen Freestyle Arena (which was not utilized for the YOG and is now a popular recreation area).
Former Olympic venues in neighboring Hamar and Gjorvik were also used for the 2016 YOG.
When the 1994 Lillehammer flame went out, these venues remained in action and, in at least one case, became significantly more efficient.
At the Bob and Luge Track, the in-track crew has gone from 17 people when the track was built to only three now, thanks to machines that do most of the work.
The track is also used year-round, with wheeled bobs racing down in the summer.
Money Well Spent
Hans Rindal (ATR)
Rindal says Lillehammer Olympiapark AS receives 10 million Norwegian kroner a year in public funds and commercial activity at the park contributes another 10 million Norwegian kroner toward the operating costs.
Winter months are packed with events and Rindal says February and March are so full there is no need to look for anything new.
Because of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, Rindal says, “A small intersection in the middle of nowhere suddenly has a place on the map.”
And what do the 2016 Youth Olympic Games do?
“I think it puts it on a different map,” he says. “There is totally different media coverage, a lot more social media, a younger group, a lot producing their own footage, putting it together and distributing it in totally new media channels.”
The IOC simply wants venues to continue to be used after an Olympic Games, even if they are repurposed for a non-Olympic sport or an activity totally unrelated to sports.
“All these venues are multi-purpose venues,” Rindal says, “of course, for elite sports and mass sport events, but also for other mass events such as trade fairs.”
Fairs are both indoor – in Hakon’s hall and Kristin’s Hall – and outdoors mostly in the summer.
“Refreshed” Venues and People
A monobob sled through Curve 10 in Hunderfossen. (ATR)
Rindal says that all venues were “refreshed to have full activity for a longer period of time.” Physical upgrades to the biathlon venue brought it up to the highest quality level.
“We’re satisfied with our legacy now,” Rindal says, “what the Olympics brought and being in a region where snow business is an integral part of society in many respects. I think it’s also relatively easy for us to benefit from what is left after a Games like this.”
With interest also refreshed in the Olympic brand thanks to the success of the YOG, should Lillehammer bid for the 2026 Games, Rindal says, “a lot of things would be in place. And a lot of the software in the surrounding municipalities is there because there are a lot of people having some sort of a relationship with the different sports.”
The Lillehammer 2016 workforce and volunteers would bring enthusiasm and know-how. In the meantime, Rindal also expects increased volunteer tourism, with volunteers staying a week or so to participate in various events. The 3,200 YOG volunteers included a large number of young people.
“It was a phenomena during the Youth Olympic Games,” Rindal says. “They come and want to be a part of an experience and it’s sort of ‘their’ Games.”
More than Sports
The legacy goes beyond hosting athletes, tourists and events. The International Broadcasting Center was built as a future campus for Lillehammer University College, and enrollment has increased from few than 1,000 to about 5,000.
Birkebeineren cross country venue (ATR)
Local companies also received a boost. The Moelven Group was already in wooden construction before the 1994 Games, but grew larger with its work on Håkons Hall, the Viking Ship, the Olympic Amphitheatre and later the Gardermoen airport.
“They have now the confidence to think about a four-lane highway bridge to cross Norway’s largest lake,” says Rindal, who began working with the Moelven Group in 1995 as controller in the laminated timber division and was CEO when he left in 2014.
The legacy even goes down to a granular level.
One development from the YOG has been a change in amount of gravel used to keep cars and pedestrians from slipping on ice.
Officials determined that 400 grams of gravel per square meter would still be used in the most critical areas, but only 200 grams per square meter would be necessary in less essential places.
And that means tons of savings.
Written by Karen Rosen in Lillehammer.
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