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Sondre Norheim
- the
Skiing Pioneer of Telemark

Sondre Quotes

HM King Olav of Norway, speaking during the statue dedication ceremony in Morgedal January 16, 1988,
“Sondre was a true pioneer. He generated enthusiasm and excitement far beyond Morgedal. Sondre brought something new to the nation and the world. With his example he generated opportunities. He has made Norwegian words like ski and slalom known worldwide. He fully deserves to be celebrated like we do today.”

President and CEO of Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee, Gerhard Heiberg, speaking in Norway Lutheran Church near Denbigh, North Dakota during a wreath-laying ceremony at Sondre’s gravesite October 1992,
“I have the greatest respect for what Sondre Norheim has done for the sport of skiing. 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.”

Ambassador of Norway to the US, Tom Vraalsen, speaking in Norway Lutheran Church near Denbigh, North Dakota during a wreath-laying ceremony at Sondre’s gravesite October 14, 1997,

“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.”

A 1966 Minot Daily News editorial, when the Sondre grave in Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery was marked for posterity,
“…a modest man, who did not tell his neighbors at Denbigh of his prowess as a ski jumper. The neighbors knew him as a quiet man with pride of workmanship with wood. It is quite possible that Norheim himself had no inkling of the importance of his contribution to competitive skiing. Now his name is prominent in all histories of the sport. Without much expense to anyone, people on both sides of the Atlantic and in the mid-continent of America have joined to put a memorial on the grave of a man who richly deserved to be remembered.”

Aslak Bergland, priest and poet, who personally knew Sondre for 20 years, speaking at the ceremony in Morgedal 100 years after Sondre’s birth,
“Sondre was a jack of all trades, but there was one area where he was truly an artist, yes, in fact virtuous – skiing. He was a skier all his life, and no one could ever compare to him.”

“I remember folk talked about a jump Sondre did when he was a child. He had placed a ladder on their house and covered it with spruce sprigs and snow. He set off and on the rooftop his jump was so high that he flew over the cowshed as well! He didn’t fall of course, and he continued all the way down to Bjaaland. There a cow was standing out in the yard. Sondre came dashing like greased lightning, and suddenly the cow tipped over! Sondre said it was because of the air pressure, but personally I think the cow was startled!”

“We would have been surprised if Sondre fell
on the slopes. And I never saw it either. I sometimes saw him touch the ground with one hand or both, to keep his balance, but he never fell. Never.”

“He had this upright carriage, was very resilient and his body seemingly only consisted of muscles and tendons. Besides, he had this special charisma. His face was characteristic, a bit pale, with strong features and a very beautiful smile. His eyes had this special look, particularly when he was on the slopes with others. I was just a kid at that time, but I watched him so often, and I couldn’t quite figure out what that look was. When I think back, I will use the words “mastery” and “superiority”.”

“He really radiated a characteristic class of his own.”

Gunnar Mandt, a teacher and ski enthusiast from Vrådal, Telemark, speaking during a memorial ceremony in Morgedal in 1897, the year Sondre died,
“Now that we know the sport of skiing is “a joyous sign of the times”, a force that unites all parts of the country, nations, peoples and parties in peaceable competition, we must acknowledge Sondre’s unique achievement. The ways of Our Lord are strange. Just when doubt and evil omens were about to wreak havoc with our times, a shabby guy from Morgedal came along and helped to create a new climate of optimism.”

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