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Sondre Norheim
- the
Skiing Pioneer of Telemark

Honouring Sondre at His Grave Site

In 1983, Princess Astrid of Norway visited Sondre’s grave south of Denbigh. The Princess was special guest at the Norsk Høstfest (Norwegian Fall Festival) in Minot that year.

Princess Astrid at Sondre's grave
Photo by
Ragnhild Hagen

Since 1991, Norsk Høstfest Association has been honouring the memory of Sondre every year at the Norsk Høstfest. This is the largest Scandinavian festival in North America, and has been held in Minot every fall since 1978.

During the festival there is a wreath-laying ceremony at Sondre’s gravesite at the Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery near Denbigh, one hour’s drive from Minot. The ceremony is held under the auspices of the Scandinavian

Lillehammer Mayor Audun Tron (left) and Gerhard Heiberg
Photo by
Anne-Gry Blikom

Heritage Association. Local organizers have been the church officers Lillian and Myron Espeseth along with other members of the church.

Several guests have participated in the ceremonies over the years, such as representatives from the Norwegian Embassy, from the Church of Norway, and Norwegian mayors to name a few.

In 1992 the President and CEO of Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee, Gerhard Heiberg participated (the Winter Games were held at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994).

“I have the greatest respect for what Sondre Norheim has done for the sport of skiing”, Heiberg said, and continued, “Being here on the prairie where Sondre lived, is a very special experience for me. I think about what an effort and challenge it must have been for him to start all over again in a new country at his age, over 60 years old”.

Tom Vraalsen talking to Høstfest visitors
Photo by
Ole Jørn Solberg

Ambassador of Norway to the US, Tom Vraalsen, has attended the ceremony two times. In his speech at October 14, 1997, Vraalsen said, “Until about 1850, skiing was a means of transport in wintertime, not a sport. Sondre Norheim changed all that. With his own incredible skiing skills and his modifications of the ski equipment, Sondre Norheim laid the foundation for a new sport which became global within less than 50 years of his death. Without Sondre Norheim, no Aspen, no Vail, no Val d’Isère, no Holmenkollen. I even doubt that there would be any Olympic Winter Games, had it not been for this great man. He is the Father of Modern Skiing.”

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