Tromsoe is a city of 75 000 people in northern Norway. Located 350 km north of the arctic circle, Tromsoe is breathtakingly beautiful, the biggest city in northern Norway and home of one of the world's best ski jumpers: Johann Andre Forfang. What Forfang misses in Tromsoe is a Ski Jumping hill and the team Olympic champion is now fighting it.
At age 15, Johann Andre Forfang had to move 1 100 km south from his hometown Tromsoe to Trondheim so he could become a ski jumper. Ever since then, his dream is to have a hill in Tromsoe. Now he is one step closer to his dream of competing in a World Cup event in Tromsoe. FIS Race Director Walter Hofer visited Johann Andre Forfang in Tromsoe and was impressed by his commitment.
"I have always dreamt of taking part in an international competition in my hometown. Many people here love our sport, but all the young jumpers know that they have to move south at a young age if they want to focus on Ski Jumping. Ever since I was little it was a dream of mine to jump on a home hill. Now I'm dreaming about returning to Tromsoe before I end my career. We really deserve to have a hill here. Ski Jumping and the other nordic sports will benefit from it", said Forfang.
"Now a feasibility study was started for the spectacular plans to build such a facility. We got the necessary funds to start planning and to check the possibilities. There's still a long road ahead of us, but this is a start and hopefully, there will be progress", said the 23-year-old.
Johann Andre Forfang smiles, when he talks about Walter Hofer's visit in spring: "It was a very nice visit. For me, it was nice to have the chance to show Walter Hofer my hometown and the plans that we are working on. Nobody has done more for the sport than him, his achievement of taking the sport to a new level was enormous. I think that he trusts Tromsoe to host big events. His interest seems to be real. This means a lot to the people here in the north, who already invested a lot of time. I'm happy about his positive approach, it means a lot to me."
FIS Race Director is impressed
Walter Hofer was surprised when he learned that Forfang grew up 735 km from the nearest World Cup hill (Ruka). In order to become one of the best, he had to move to Trondheim - 1152 km away.
"It is fascinating, that we have someone like Johann from Tromsoe among the world's elite, without having the chance to train at home. When we have the chance, we have to do everything we can to make it possible here. The surroundings are perfect and offer everything we need for Ski Jumping. The city is beautiful. I'm sure that there are many Ski Jumping fans here and I hope that the international Ski Jumping family will be invited to carry out a competition here. There is a huge potential, the landscape is amazing and the people here really want it. I felt like home here. They now have to seize the opportunity that Johann is one of the best. There can't be a better ambassador than Johann and really hope that they will use this as good as possible", said Walter Hofer.
A hill in Tromsoe can be worth a lot soon. It would not only be possible to extend the season on snow, but the facility could also serve as a replacement venue when mild temperatures and rain, like recently in Titisee-Neustadt, cause problems.
"It is too early to think about a season opener in Tromsoe. First, there needs to be a hill, then we can talk about the calendar", said the Race Director.
Northern lights and midnight sun
Johann Andre Forfang, who claimed his third World Cup win recently in Nizhny Tagil, doesn't even know where to start when you talk to him about the possibilities a hill in Kvaloeysletta would offer. "We never had a World Cup this far north. We all know what northern Norway has to offer. At other hills, you will not be able to see the northern lights or the midnight sun. In Tromsoe there are mountains, the sea, and nature. Ski Jumping would be great here. I hope, that the people really want such an event. It would be a boost for Ski Jumping and other nordic sports."
"We could give a new dimension to the Summer Grand Prix. Imagine jumping in the midnight sun and the crazy light here in the north. It would look spectacular on TV, you might even see whales during the jumps. I haven't heard anything negative yet about the hill in my hometown."
How realistic is this project? "It's about the money, but there are many who want such a facility. It's about financing. If it would be unrealistic, the dream would have been over a long time ago. Now we've come to a point where it starts to get realistic. We don't know what it would cost, but if you look at other hills you are quickly at about 200 million Norwegian kroner. There's a lot to do, including the infrastructure. Don't forget that it should be a facility not only for Ski Jumping but for all the other nordic sports as well. There's not a lot of that north of Trondheim", said Forfang.
The big dream of a home competition can also prolong the Ski Jumping career of Johann Andre Forfang. "It would be the highlight of my career when I get the chance to in an international event in my hometown. This would be outstanding. I would jump longer for it, it could prolong my career for many years, but I hope it will not take many years."