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Sondre Norheim
- the
Skiing Pioneer of Telemark

Sondre Statues in Norway and the United States

There are two statues of Sondre. One is located in Minot, North Dakota, the other in Morgedal. The 2.5-meter tall identical bronze statues were sculpted by renowned artist Knut Skinnarland (1909-1993) of Rauland, Telemark, and were unveiled in 1987 and 1988.

The Statue in Minot
The Statue in Morgedal
Knut Skinnarland – the Sondre Sculptor

The project was a joint effort between the Norsk Høstfest Association in Minot and the Friends of Minot Club in Skien, Telemark. Minot is located in the state to which Sondre immigrated, and he is buried near Denbigh, about one hour’s drive from Minot. As a cultural festival focusing on the strong bonds of heritage between Norway and the Midwest, Norsk Høstfest had a strong belief in the statue project.

Ragnhild Hagen and Chester Reiten with the "Little Sondre" sculpture, which was given to the town of Minot from the Friends of Minot Club in 1993
Photo by Eivind Molde

On the Norwegian side, this project became a major goal for the Friends of Minot Club, a club dedicated to strengthening the bonds between North Dakota and Telemark. Skien and Minot are also sister cities.

During a visit to Morgedal in 1980, Høstfest President Chester Reiten told Ragnhild Hagen, who is in charge of the Friends of Minot Club, that he had plans for statues of Sondre in Minot and Morgedal. Four years later Hagen and Reiten decided to go ahead with the statue project.

Committees were established on both sides of the Atlantic. Reiten chaired the fund raising efforts in Dakota, with Dale Mattern and Ken Kitzman co-chairing the committee for installation and the unveiling ceremony. The Norwegian committee was chaired by Ragnhild Hagen. Several organizations and companies contributed in the fundraising, with costs split equally between Minot and Telemark.

Feel free to browse
Special Events in Morgedal (gallery)
>Special Events in Minot and Denbigh
>The Memorials

Plans had also been made earlier for a Sondre statue. The idea came from Edward A. Milligan, a former president of the North Dakota State Historical Society. Still president of the society, Mr. Milligan was a key player when the memorial plaque was dedicated at Sondre’s grave near Denbigh in 1966.

Milligan later contacted Knut Skinnarland with regard to obtaining duplicate statues of Sondre. His principal Norwegian associate on this project was Jacob Vaage at the Ski Museum in Holmenkollen, Oslo.

In 1977 Knut Skinnarland had a plaster figure ready, but unfortunately Mr. Milligan passed away, and the project was not completed.

But it was the 1977 draft, however, which was the basis for the monument when the statues became a reality 10 years later, thanks to the Friends of Minot Club and Norsk Høstfest.

Copyright © 2002-2012 by Anne-Gry Blikom and Eivind Molde email@sondrenorheim.com
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