Holmenkollbakken is a large ski jumping hill located at Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway. It has a hill size of HS134, a construction point of K-120, and a capacity for 70,000 spectators. Holmenkollen has hosted the Holmenkollen Ski Festival since 1892, which since 1980 have been part of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup and 1983 the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup. It has also hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1930, 1966, 1982 and 2011.
The hill has been rebuilt 19 times; important upgrades include a stone take-off in 1910, an in-run superstructure in 1914, and a new superstructure in 1928. During the Second World War, the venue was used as a military installation, but upgraded in the late 1940s. Further expansions were made ahead of the 1966 and 1982 World Championships, as well as in 1991. Between 2008 and 2010, the entire structure was demolished and rebuilt. As of 8 February 2011, the hill record is unofficially held by Anders Jacobsen at 142.5 meters. The official hill record was set at 5 March 2011 by Andreas Kofler at 141 meters. The hill is part of Holmenkollen National Arena, which in addition to cross-country and biathlon venues has the normal hill Midtstubakken.
The first major skiing competition in Oslo was Husebyrennet, which was held in Husebybakken in Ullern from 1879 until 1891. In 1887, the road to Holmenkollen was opened, although it was at the time only used for recreation, as there was no housing in the area. I. C. L. Holm saw the potential to develop the area into a recreational centre, and established Peisestuen in 1886, Holmenkollen Sportsstue in 1891, Holmenkollen Sanatorium og Turisthotell in 1894, and Voksenkollen Sanatorium in 1900. In 1890, Husebyrennet had to be canceled due to lack of snow, and instead the tournament was held at Ullbakken at Frognerseteren. Because of the distance, the tournament was held on a Sunday; this caused some criticism, and to compensate it was decided not to collect entrance fees. The following year, the final event was held in Husebybakken.
Following the 1891 season, the lease with the land owner for Husebybakken needed to be renegotiated. Several times the venues had had too little snow and Fritz Huitfeldt and Hans Krag proposed building a new hill at Besserudmyra. After half a year of planning, the general assembly of the Association for the Promotion of Skiing approved the move in late 1891. To create sufficient water supply for the hotels, a dam had been built and this created Besserudkjernet, a small lake, at the bottom of the hill. It would cover with ice during the winter. Construction was simple: a few trees had to be chopped down and when the snow came, branches were laid where the jump was to be. The first competition was held on 30 January 1892, and was spectated by between fifteen and twenty thousand people, who saw jumpers reach 15 to 21.5 meters.
Holmenkollbakken in 1917, after the first scaffold had been erected
The original hill had a knoll just after the take-off, which gave the psychological feeling of falling and made landing more difficult. It was therefore decided to change the profile slightly to make the hill safer and allow more jumpers to land properly. No standard profiles existed at the time, so the Association for the Promotion of Skiing had to do guesswork to create a better profile. The new profile was taken into use from 1894 and had cost NOK 2000. For the first decade, the take-off was rebuilt for every year, and its position would therefore vary. In 1904, the take-off was rebuilt with rocks, giving it a specific location on the hill. Prior to the 1907 season, landing slope was built down slightly into the terrain down from the 25 meter mark, as it would give easier landing. The take-off was moved in 1910 and built as a 2-meter (6 ft 7 in) tall stone structure. To keep the lake with a hard layer of ice, the snow was removed as it fell; if the ice was not thick enough it could create problems with flooding the spectator areas during the events. From 1913, the lake was opened as a skating rink and marketed by the hotels as part of their services. However, it was never a success, and was abandoned within a few years.
During the 1910s it had become common in the United States to build jumps with a scaffold superstructure for the in-run, and this had been described as an abomination in the Norwegian press. Prior to the 1914 season, a 10-meter (33 ft) tall steel superstructure was built.This resulted in massive negative reactions in the press, and it was the public’s opinion that ski jumping was to be done in natural hills. The same year, two other major Norwegian hills received similar structures, Nydalsbakken and Solbergbakken. The first trials were made on 15 January, giving jumps 34 meters. This was regarded as the furthest anyone would jump. The hill was subsequently expanded slightly a few times afterwards, including blasting it steeper, chopping it wider, and covering the landing slope with earth and sowing grass to improve the profile.