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Morgedal - in the Heart of Telemark

Øverbø - Sondre's Birthplace

Sondre in the History of Skiing

Skis - Bindings - Telemark Turn - Christiania Turn - Slalom

The Olympic Fire from Morgedal

In Remembrance of Sondre

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Sondre Norheim
- the
Skiing Pioneer of Telemark


>1825, June 10: Sondre is born at Øverbø, a cotter’s farm in Morgedal, Telemark.

>1854, January 15: Sondre (28) marries Rannei Åmundsdotter (29) from Øyfjell in Telemark.

>1850-1870: The heyday in Morgedal – a rich ski environment with Sondre as a pioneer in experimenting with new ski equipment and a new style of skiing.

>1866, February 11: Sondre is invited to participate in what has been described as the world’s first ski jumping competition with prizes, held at Ofte, Høydalsmo (15 kilometres west of Morgedal). Sondre is number one. In addition he receives an extra prize for spectacular performance. This is the first time Sondre participates in a skiing competition outside Morgedal.

>1868, February 9: Sondre (42) participates in the very first national skiing competition in Norway. It’s his first time competing outside Telemark, and after a three day walk on skis from Morgedal – about 200 kilometres – he arrives in the nation’s capital, Christiania (now Oslo). At Iversløkken he demonstrates (for the first time outside Telemark) the Telemark turn and the turn later known as the Christiania turn (since 1901). Sondre uses heel bindings, and he uses shorter skis which are narrower in the middle than at the ends. As the undisputed winner, Sondre impresses everyone. His name becomes familiar all over the country. His performance had a significant impact on the development of skiing as a sport.

>1884, May 30: Sondre (59), Rannei (59),
Anne (21), Åmund (14) and Talleiv (12) leave Morgedal and immigrate to USA (Minnesota). Olav and Hæge had left in advance. Ingerid decided to stay back home.

>1886: The world’s first slalom competition is held in the Telemark village of Seljord, 18 kilometres east of Morgedal.

>1887: Aslak Bergland, a clergyman and poet from Morgedal, is publishing a book with
poems – “Lauvduskar” (“Garland of Leaves”) – which describes Sondre’s skills as a brilliant skier.

>1888, May 5: Sondre becomes a citizen of the United States, after settling in North Dakota.

>1891, November 20: The Sondre family becomes owners of their own 160 acre farm near Denbigh, located in McHenry County of North Dakota. The exact location is Township 155N, Range 77W, Section 35.

>1897, March 9: Sondre dies in North Dakota, 71 years old.

>1897: A memorial ceremony is held in Morgedal.

>1898: Sondre is buried about eight kilometres west of his farm in an unmarked grave.

>1898, May 11: The Dakota farm is sold to John Brooten, and Rannei moves to Oregon.

>1913, Nov 1: Rannei dies at age 88, at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem. She was buried in the Oregon State Hospital Cemetery. This information is a result of recent research. Previously, historians have believed that she died in 1929, 104 years old.

>1925, June 10: A memorial stone is erected in Morgedal, 100 years after Sondre’s birth.

>1947: The first book about Sondre and Morgedal’s role in the history of skiing is published – Torjus Loupedalen:
Morgedal, skisportens vogge (Torjus Loupedalen: Morgedal, the Cradle of Skiing).

>1949: Morgedal Sports Club and the Association for the Promotion of Skiing, located in Oslo, assume responsibility for Øverbø and change the former cotter’s farm into a museum.

>1952, February 13: The Olympic Torch is lit at Øverbø, and brought to the Olympic Winter Games in Oslo, Norway.

>1955, March 27: HRH Crown Prince Olav visits Øverbø.

>1960, January 31:The Olympic Torch is lit at Øverbø, and brought to the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, USA. The fire from Morgedal is still burning in Squaw Valley.

>1965, July: Sondre’s grave is identified at Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery south of Denbigh, North Dakota, after a search initiated by Dorothy Lyon, a great grandchild of Sondre.

>1966, June 12: A stone with a memorial plaque is dedicated at the grave at the Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery.

>1966: The 100th anniversary for the skiing competition at Ofte,
Høydalsmo is celebrated not only at Høydalsmo, but also in Morgedal, Rjukan and Skien, as well as the World Championship in Holmenkollen, Oslo. Holmenkollen is a famous ski jumping, cross-country and biathlon arena, where the Ski Museum
the world’s oldest of its kindis also located. The first major ski arena in Oslo was Iversløkken, followed by the larger Huseby Arena and then Holmenkollen.

>1971, April 17 and 24: The 75-minute Sondre movie, directed by Johan Vestly, is broadcast in two parts on national TV in Norway. Later the movie is re-edited into a 49-minute version, called “Sondre fra Morgedal – frikaren på ski”,
with both Norwegian and English commentary.

>1974: Sondre is inducted into the US National Ski Hall of Fame.

>1975: Sondre is the subject of commemorative stamps marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.

>1983: Princess Astrid, who is a guest at the Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota, visits Sondre’s grave south of Denbigh.

>1984, October 19: Sondre is inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame at the Norsk Høstfest in Minot.

>1987, October 16: A statue of Sondre, created by sculptor Knut Skinnarland of Rauland, Telemark, is unveiled in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot.

>1988, January 16: An identical Sondre statue is unveiled in Morgedal by HM King Olav.

>1991, October 17: The first annual wreath-laying ceremony is held at Sondre’s gravesite near Denbigh – from now on, this is a regular part of the programme during the Norsk Høstfest in Minot.

>1993: The first book about Sondre is published – Kjetil Steinsholt/Knut Høihjelle: Sondre Nordheim fra Morgedal (Kjetil Steinsholt/Knut Høihjelle: Sondre Nordheim from Morgedal). 

>1993, November 26: The Norwegian Ski Adventure Centre (Norsk Skieventyr) opens in Morgedal. It offers visitors information, souvenirs and a journey through the history of skiing.

>1993, November 27: The Olympic Torch is lit at Øverbø, and brought to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Before leaving Morgedal, a flame is lit from the torch at a special cairn in Lake Morgedal where the fire is still burning.

>1993, December 3: A ceremony is held at Sondre’s grave south of Denbigh, North Dakota, where a branch of the Morgedal fire is presented after being transported from Telemark to Minot by North Dakota Governor Edward Schafer.

>1993, December 4: The Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame is lit in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot. As in Morgedal, the flame in Minot is still burning.

>2003, October 7: The first book in English about Sondre is published – Anne-Gry Blikom/Eivind Molde:
Sondre Norheim - The Father Of Modern Skiing”.

>2003, November 27: The 10 years anniversary for The Olympic Torch Relay from Morgedal to Lillehammer is marked at The Norwegian Ski Adventure Centre (Norsk Skieventyr) in Morgedal.

September 30: A memorial marker for Rannei Åmundsdotter, Sondre's wife, is dedicated at the gravesite near Denbigh, North Dakota. Telelaget of America was a major contributor for the marker. 

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