Legacy Governance – Lillehammer Olympic Park

Lillehammer Olympic Park

Preliminary remarks

As you may have seen, two governance cases are dedicated to Lillehammer. Reasons that support this choice are twofold. First, Lillehammer hosted two editions of the Games. If the latter built upon the former to deliver great Games, it also produced its own legacy and consequently, structures to deal with it. Second, as legacy is about both venues and facilities at one side and education, knowledge transfer and experience sharing at the other side, two different cases were necessary to encompass various ways Lillehammer manages its Olympic legacy(ies). Inherited from the 1994 Games, the Lillehammer Olympiapark is a structure run by the municipality of Lillehammer that takes care of the majority of Olympic venues and events. The Lillehammer Olympic Legacy Sports Centre is an emanation of the Norwegian Sports Federation and Olympic and Paralympic Committee and is a direct legacy of the YOG.

Obviously, many bridges and crossovers exist between these structures and collaboration and common understanding are key. The big picture also encloses the Norwegian Top Sports Centre of the Innland region dedicated to elite athletes (Olympiatoppen Innlandet), the University, the Olympic Legacy Studies Centre as well as the remaining Olympic venues run by other municipalities or private companies. With all these partners involved in managing Lillehammer’s Olympic legacy, clusters (venues, events, training, research, etc.) facilitate organisation and legacy management

  • Olympic City: Lillehammer
  • Country: Norway
  • Edition of the Games: 1994 Winter Olympic Games
Since 1990
Lillehammer & the region
©Free Vector Maps

How legacy started In Lillehammer

“The XVII Winter Olympics did not exist. Norway did not exist. These were the fairy-tale Games, drawn from the imagination, staged in the pages of a children’s book. They could not exist. Reality cannot be that good!”.

Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, only two years after the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games. Lillehammer inaugurated the new cycle of Winter Games alternating with Summer Olympic Games every two years.

Lillehammer Games remain in collective memories as successful human-sized Games with high environmental and sustainability standards. Twenty-five after the event, facilities are still in use and the housing built for the Games hosts more than 4000 students. The general assessment was that the 2016 Youth Olympic Games would not have been possible without the 1994 Games facilities and experience.

Today, Lillehammer Olympiapark AS is in charge with managing the Olympic venues, keeping them up level, and organising events. It is in charge with five Olympic venues: Lillehammer Olympic Bob and Luge Track, Birkebeiner Ski and Biathlon Stadium, Lysgårdsbakkene Ski jumping Arena, Kanthaugen Freestyle Venue, and Håkons Hall.

The corporate mission is defined as: “Based on the interests of the Lillehammer society and with a business approach the company shall own, operate, maintain and develop venues built for the Lillehammer’94 Olympics and activities naturally related.”


Legacy is…

Legacy is all the activities that takes place in the Lillehammer society that wouldn’t take place without the Olympic Winter Games 1994. For the society of Lillehammer, the three following areas of legacy has been the most important:

  1. The position (internationally known as an Olympic City).
  2. The educational institutions (the Norwegian High School of Elite Sports, and the Innland University of Applied Sciences).
  3. The Winter Olympic Venues utilized as multi-purpose venues

What’s next?

Lillehammer Olympic Park aims to be a venue for memorable moments and experiences.

Facilities are of tremendous importance for everyday life in the local community, where all athletes and tourists to sports teams and athletes are active users. Due to unique capacity and infrastructure, the Park attracts both tourists, national and international events and major training sessions. The company’s main task is to facilitate the greatest possible activity, not only in the facilities, but also in the local community. Lillehammer Olympic Park strongly contributes to realise the regional vision to be the most complete winter sports region in Europe.


Promote the City by leveraging its affiliation with the Olympic Movement

The Olympic Park works towards the acquisition of sports, cultural and corporate events. The company was heavily involved in the bid for the 2016 YOG, and the bid process for the 2014 and 2022 OG. The company has also initiated and conceptualized several other events, especially mass events targeted to youth.

The company have been involved in (but not in charge off) the celebrations of the 10, 20 and the recent 25-year anniversary since the Olympics in 1994. Besides, the company has been an important player in the establishment of the “Torch Awards” where the region honours their inhabitants, the institutions and the business every second year.

Promote healthy and active life style

Based on the interests of the Lillehammer society and with a business approach the company owns, operates, maintains and develops venues built for the Lillehammer’94 Olympics and activities naturally related.

Running winter infrastructures into 365 days a year offer is a challenge. The Park offers free public recreational facilities (XC skiing, family sledging, park activities, etc.)

Winter sport strategic planning process was set up in 2005. The City is also involved in reflection about potential bid for the Olympics 2030, Global Active City, regional partnership, etc.


Evaluation of the Games and its legacy are based on concrete results:

  • Lillehammer University College grew from 700 students to 5.200 student. Growth is visible in all areas, but specially related to TV and media production, film production (due to the infrastructure from the MMC) and sports related education.
  • Cultural institutions and buildings built for Lillehammer’94 are well kept and developed
  • Approximately 8.000 – 10.000 cabins, apartments and second homes were built in the Lillehammer region. They are mainly connected to the alpine venues and mountain resorts focusing on Nordic skiing. The Olympic brand Lillehammer is one of the main reasons to be attractive, but also upgraded infrastructure (roads, railways, etc) and cultural activities played an important role.
  • Growth in tourism has occured after the Games, but less than expected.

In 2019 is launched a research process focusing on the long term legacy (25 years after). Most of the legacy is from the period 2000 – 2019.

Key Challenges

Planning processes to be short and efficient.

Short timeline from the time Games was awarded until the Games time.Very close collaboration between several public organisations is required (municipality, county, government, etc.). Cross political collaboration and agreements is key. Almost all political parties supported the process

Continuous scepticism

Scepticism remains among approximately 50% of the inhabitants in the region.

  • Not really solved. In fact more positive inhabitants in other parts of the country
  • Seriously focusing on the cases most criticized, and employing people from critical organisations to help the LOOC to solve critical issues.
  • Involvement of the entire country in cultural programs, design programs, development programs, etc.
  • Environment and sustainability early defined as an important part of the concept

Challenges to determine the sites

At the time of the Games’ preparation, there were fights related where to locate the different venues, and two much temporary installations. It is of tremendous importance for the post-games era.

  • Early decision to involve the neighbour cities (Gjovik and Hamar) to secure a sustainable post-Olympic use (Lillehammer was to small to keep all venues after the Games). Speed skating, Figure skating, Short track and one Ice hockey venue located outside Lillehammer
  • MMC/RTV Centre early decided to be converted to the future University College
    • Media village converted to student apartments to support the increasing number of students (40%). Rest of the media village was built as moduls and sold as student apartments to other parts of the country
  • Athletes village built to be sold in the private market after the games. Service buildings in the athlete village converted to centre for elderly people and a church (disco in the athletes village, now a church celebrating their 25 years anniversary next weekend)
  • The LOOC was not focusing at 4 season winter sports venues. This issue (problem) was left to the legacy organisations but followed by a post Olympic fund (approximately 40 mill Euros – 25 of them targeted to the sport venues).

Key learnings and recommendations

Strong legacy thanks to successful Games

The main reason for the success of the Games was the weather, very good operational plans and the huge interest from the Norwegian spectators.

  • A value based planning process followed by a strong venue based organisation.
  • Affordable tickets
  • Transport and traffic plans that worked
  • A lot of local families opened their homes to accommodate spectators and sponsors
  • The very special atmosphere was also a result of such a big scale event in a small and cosy city. The Olympics took over the entire city in a positive way.

A closer connection should be established between the legacy organisations and the Olympic Games Organising Committee.

For the future, every Organising Committee should establish a role CLO (chief legacy officer) to be a part of the executive management group.

  • Venues built to host a mega event needs to be adjusted to fit the daily needs.
  • Tourism and retail industry should not get access to legacy funds (to much money spent the first 3 – 5 years)
  • Accept that the legacy is a long-term project/process. Growth will not come the first 5 years.


Get prepared to adapt facilities and venues to local needs

  • Local, regional and national politicians needs to be told that Olympic sport venues will not be profitable.
  • To much discussions related to funding is exhausting and kills the creativity
  • Focusing on creating as much activities as possible should be the main role of the legacy organisations.
  • All sport venues today are accessible to the local population, and at the same time certificated at an international level for competitions
  • All sport venues are defined as multi-purpose venues and are not limited to sports. It is important to be able to utilize their attraction, size and infrastructure.
  • It is essential to recognize that winter sport is a 4 season activity. Today Lillehammer is the number 1 place to go for a young talented athlete. The tailor made combination between education and training from high school to university is extremely important.



More information


The full case is available in printable version on the members’ portal

In addition to the above description, the PDF version also gathers practical information including internal and external partners involved; finance and cost; use of the olympic brand; human resources and time; and contact details. 

The World Union of Olympic Cities’ team remains at your disposal for any further information and contact’s facilitation at info@olympiccities.org 

Additional resources can be found through the following links: