An Olympic legacy: Lillehammer 20 years on

In just a handful of days, the world’s attention falls on Sochi for the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.

It will mark 20 years since Scandinavia last hosted the event.

The 1994 Lillehammer Games were memorable for so many reasons, An Olympic legacy

but perhaps most of all for turning the world’s attention to such a tiny town: the population of Lillehammer is just 26,000.

Nowhere as small has come close to hosting the world’s biggest sporting event since then, so it is understandable that the memories of 1994 loom large.

From the logo-emblazoned manhole covers to the Lysgårdsbakken ski jump towering over the town, An Olympic legacy

everywhere you look there is a constant reminder of the two weeks when the whole world knew about Lillehammer.

These days, many visitors see Lillehammer as a quiet town.

The centre is often deserted, even on weekends,

but only because the locals spend their precious leisure time in the mountains,

taking advantage of the facilities very few towns of its size are blessed with.

Local children zoom around the Olympic arena on sledges and skis, perhaps dreaming of their own Olympic glory.

Local professor Thor Andre Skrefsrund lived in Lillehammer during the Games, assisting the French Olympic Committee.

“The whole region has profited from the Olympics in the long-term.

The arenas are used a lot, the roads were upgraded, and Oslo Gardermoen airport was built.

In Lillehammer now,

I experience an interest in sports that is not the same elsewhere in Norway.

People of all ages go skiing and cycling in the mountains on a regular basis,” he says.

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