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Sondre Norheim
- the
Skiing Pioneer of Telemark

A Torch for the VI Olympic Winter Games – Oslo, Norway, 1952

Ski enthusiasts from Morgedal present the idea of an Olympic Torch Relay. For the first time ever, a Torch Relay is organized for the Winter Games.

Øystein Strandi (left), Olav Hemmestveit and Olav Bjaaland
Photo by Sturlason

The ceremony takes place on February 13, 1952. From the fireplace inside the Sondre cottage, the pinewood torch is lit by Olav Bjaaland, a ski veteran who also participated in the Roald Amundsen South Pole Expedition. Sitting next to him at the fireplace is 10-year-old Olav Tveiten.

As Olav Bjaaland leaves the cottage with the torch, the chairman of the Morgedal Sports Club, Øystein Strandi is waiting outside with the special Olympic Torch holder. The fire is lit from Olav’s pinewood torch, and Øystein hands the torch over to Olav Hemmestveit, son of the famous Morgedal skier Mikkel Hemmestveit.

With the Olympic Torch in his hand, Olav is skiing down the steep hillside. The people of Morgedal gather for a ceremony at the Sondre memorial stone in the centre of the village, and from there the Torch Relay sets off, heading for Bislett Stadium in Oslo, 200 kilometres away.

There are 94 skiers participating in the relay. The torch holder is handed over from skier to skier, as they follow the same route as Sondre and his fellow skiers from Morgedal did back in 1868, when they participated in a skiing competition in the nation’s capital, and impressed everyone with their new technique.

The Olympic Flame is lit on February 15 by the final torchbearer, Eigil Nansen, grandson of Fridtjof Nansen, the famous explorer. The games are opened by HRH Princess Ragnhild. 

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