On the spot

Ingunn Trosholmen

Mayor of Lillehammer, Norway

Mayor Trosholmen, thanks for welcoming the Members of the World Union of Olympic Cities for the 2021 Annual Meeting and additional trip. What are you expecting from such a visit?

The Olympic history is important for Lillehammer. Both the 1994 Olympics and the 2016 Youth Olympics had a significant influence in terms of shaping the city into what it is today. I’m very excited about welcoming other Olympic cities to Lillehammer for the purpose of exchanging past experiences while simultaneously discussing further development. It is with great enthusiasm that I anticipate this visit will provide new ideas, new international relations as well as several new friends of Lillehammer.

According to you, what are the benefits of being part of such a network?

Through years of experience working on international relations in my former job as an Executive Manager at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, I have learned to truly value international cooperation. The World Union of Olympic Cities facilitates dialogue and unites people with experiences and new ideas in order to enable the important and continuous focus on legacy.

It is a unique opportunity for our Members to discover on-site the rich and lively legacy of Lillehammer, host of the 1994 Winter Olympics and 2016 Youth Olympic Games. What would you like to highlight in terms of both hard and soft legacies?

First, we are very proud of having almost all venues from the 1994 Olympics still in use. Most of them are still used for international events. In October, our luge and bobsleigh track, the first to open in Europe, will welcome international athletes to training camps. In late November, Håkons Hall, the Ice Hockey venue in 1994 and the Learn & Share Venue in 2016, will host European Curling Championships. Just a few weeks later we will also host world cup cross country, Nordic combined and women’s ski jumping.
I would also like to mention the University College, located in the old media centre from the 1994 Olympics, which has grown rapidly, partly due to the 1994 legacy.
Another important highlight is the Lillehammer Olympic Legacy Sport Centre. The centre was planned during the years leading up to the 2016 Youth Olympics. It’s been realised and developed into a centre that contributes to sharing competence, development of young leaders and cooperation across borders.
I am looking forward to welcoming visitors to our great Olympic legacy.

Lillehammer, like every other place in the world, has been hurt by the Covid-19 pandemics. What solutions were put in place at the city level to face these challenges?

No doubt Covid-19 has been challenging for us. Simultaneously, we have been very fortunate, having only a few infected during the past year. The City of Lillehammer has only rarely been locked down. Like everyone else, we have been following guidelines and safety regulations limiting social activities, but I believe that the inhabitants in Lillehammer have felt safe here during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sport and tourism activities are restarting, and Lillehammer will be busy with major sport events in the coming months. What is the city’s strategy to combine event hosting with local and 4-season offers?   

It’s worth mentioning that Lillehammer, despite our strong reputation as a winter destination is also a popular summer tourism destination. The best season for our hotels is July, mainly due to the Hunderfossen amusement park combining classic family entertainment with modern-day thrills. Maihaugen, Norway’s largest open-air museum, also attracts a lot of visitors during the summer. I could go on forever, highlighting all of the things to experience in Lillehammer, being the proud ambassador that I am, but let me just summarise that Lillehammer is a year-round tourism destination.
Nevertheless, we are continuously working on attracting more people to our region in the shoulder seasons, events obviously being an important part of this strategy. Our strategy for sustainable event management is one important factor, contributing to both innovation and the development of events taking place here in the shoulder seasons; the European Curling Championships in late November are a good example.
I strongly emphasize that both the permanent tourist attractions as well as all of the cultural and sporting events are key contributors promoting Lillehammer as a great place to live.