Vikersundbakken is a ski flying hill at Vikersund in Modum, Norway. It is the largest in the world. Five world records have been set in the hill, with the current of 246.5 meters being set by Johan Remen Evensen. The complex also consists of a large hill, a normal hill and several training hills.
The hill opened in 1936 as a large hill. It was rebuilt to become a ski flying hill in 1964 and has later been converted in 1989, 1999 and 2010. The large hill was built in 1988. The hill was the first to receive floodlights in 2006. It has hosted the FIS Ski-Flying World Championships four times, in 1977, 1990, 2000, 2012.
In 1894, Vikersund SK was established and started with ski jumping. Until the 1930s, they used six different ski jumping hills around the area. By then, the club had fostered sufficiently good jumpers that it was proposed to build a proper hill. A committee was established on 19 March 1935 and led by Gustav N. Hovde. At first they found a suitable location north of Heggen. However, they failed to reach an agreement with the land owner. Instead, Hovde proposed using the steep hill close to Heggen Church. After purchasing the land, construction started later in 1935. The original hill was designed by Thunold Hansen. Construction cost 6,290 Norwegian krone (NOK), of which NOK 1000 was borrowed and the rest of financed through private donations.
The first hill had a length from the top of the in-run to the bottom of the out-run of 425 meters (1,394 ft) and an elevation difference of 130 meters (430 ft). The in-run was 115 meters (377 ft) long and had an elevation difference of 46 meters (151 ft).
The hill was inaugurated on 29 January 1936 with a 50-meter jump by Birger Henriksen. The longest jump on the opening day was made by Reidar Andersen, who jumped 86 meters. At the most he was 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 ft) above the landing slope, so the take-off was lowered 40 centimeters (16 in) from 6 to 11 degrees.
The main logistical issue with the events was the poor transport service, with only a narrow road to the hill. During the 1950s, the attendance rose well beyond the former 5,000, forcing the road to upgraded in 1955.By the 1950s, ski jumps were being built larger and in 1954, Kristian Hovde proposed to expand Vikersundbakken, which he hoped would allow jumps of 100 meters (330 ft). The plans were passed by the club’s annual meeting on 13 September, with construction starting in the summer of 1955. The lower part of the landing slope was dug down 1.75 meters (5 ft 9 in), the in-run was raised up to 85 centimeters (33 in) and a new jury tower and stairway was built. Additional expansion was passed on 27 April 1956: a 12-meter (39 ft) tall scaffolding in-run was built on top of the old in-run. The hill was designed by Carl Borgen. Contractors were Brødrene Teigen and since the club did not have sufficient funds, they were willing to wait with the payment until they had. The new hill was inaugurated on 10 March 1956.
The new hill was too large to be regarded as a large hill, but was not large enough to be categorized as a ski flying hill. In 1964, the club appointed a committee led by Ottar Grøtterud to consider an expansion of the hill. There was only to be built one ski flying hill in the Nordic Countries, with the main alternative being Renabakken in Rena.
Construction cost NOK 445,000 and was in part financed with a NOK 75,000 grant and NOK 150,000 loan from Modum Municipality, NOK 20,000 from volunteer work, NOK 80,000 from the club, grants from companies and banks and from Buskerud County Municipality, and NOK 100,000 in betting funds. Construction was done by Entreprenør Gunnar Sterkebye. The hill received a new 23-meter (75 ft) tall in-run and a new jury tower 70 meters (230 ft) form the jump. On the landing slope and out-run, 200,000 cubic meters (7,100,000 cu ft) of earthwork had to be moved. Work was made more difficult because of high snowfall and temperatures down to −28 °C (−18 °F). The hill was inaugurated on 13 March 1966.
The next upgrade of the venue were minor upgrades ahead of the 1977 World Championships. Ahead of the 1990 World Championships, the venue was again renovated. However, to secure better recruitment, the venue also received a new normal hill with a construction point of K-90.
The hill has been rebuilt for the 2012 Skiflying World Championships. It is the first in the world with a hill size of 225 meters, making Vikersundbakken the largest skiflying hill in the world, as Slovenia’s Planica, which was the largest as of 2010, is HS215. It has been built farther into the terrain with sidewalls made of natural gravel to avoid wind problems during competitions. Furthermore, it has been slanted slightly to the south from the in-run area to further reduce wind problems. The hill was ready for the 2011 Trial Skiflying World Championships held on the 11–13 February 2011.
The old in-run was demolished in 2010. Architects of the new and larger hill were Slovenians Janez Gorišek & his son Sebastjan Gorišek. Janez Gorišek, together with his brother Lado, is most famous for creating Letalnica Bratov Gorišek in Planica, the previous largest hill in the world, before Vikersundbakken was enlarged in 2011. He is usually named as the father of modern ski flying and he is also known as an expert on skiflying hills.
During the trial skiflying championship, Johan Remen Evensen jumped 243 meters setting a new world record during the first official training on Friday, 11 February 2011. Later during qualification Evensen set another world record improving the new record to an astonishing 246,5 meters. On the 12th of February Gregor Schlierenzauer improved the Austrian record to 243,5 meters. Johan Remen Evensen managed a 240 meter jump with a perfect telemark the same day.
During autumn 2011 the hill has been further improved with a different radius at HS 225 increasing the ability to stand on greater lengths. Additionally the jump itself was cut 1 meter short because of decreased speed needed by the jumpers. In fact, during the 2011 competitions they needed to add several gates to the hill below gate 1 because of better conditions than they had anticipated during construction in 2010. A total of five gates were added. Gregor Schlierenzauer praised the hill during interviews, calling it the best hill in the world. Evensen was also extremely satisfied with the hill, calling it “perfect”.
The inaugural competition was held on 25 February 1936 in front of 5,000 spectators. Hilmar Myhra won the race, setting the first official hill record at 86 meters (282 ft). The hill was used for a single major competition each year, Vikersundrennet. Arnold Kongsgård beat the hill record in 1946 when he jumped 87.5 meters (287 ft) and then beat it with another meter two years later. The ultimate hill record in the original hill was 98 meters (322 ft), which was also a new Norwegian record, set by Arne Hoel in 1951. After the opening of the new jump in 1957, Hoel set a new hill record of 100.5 meters (330 ft). The following year, Asbjørn Osnes set a new hill record of 108.5 meters (356 ft) and then again in 1960 by Paavo Lukkariniemi of 116.5 meters (382 ft).
On the first ski flying competition on 14 March 1966 saw Bjørn Wirkola set a new world record at 146 meters (479 ft). Starting on 12 March 1967, the club introduced the International Ski Flying Week. The inaugural tournament was held on 12 March 1967 and saw Austria’s Reinhold Bachler set a world record of 154 meters (505 ft). On 11 March 1968, the tournament was canceled due to strong winds, although 22,500 people had come to spectate. In 1973, the International Ski Flying Week was canceled because of lack of snow. On this hill were also two Continental Cup competitions in 2004 both won by Austrian Roland Müller.
In the late 1960s, the International Ski Federation (FIS) started planning a world championship in ski flying. The Norwegian Ski Federation was opposed to this. Vikersundbakken was awarded the fourth FIS Ski-Flying World Championships, held in 1977. Switzerland’s Walter Steiner won the race, while Czechoslovakia’s František Novák set a new hill record of 157 meters (515 ft). Vikersundbakken was used in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in 1980, 1983 and 1986.
The normal hill was used for the Norwegian Ski Championships in 1989. As there was no snow, 3,000 cubic meters (110,000 cu ft) was freighted by train from Finse via the Bergen Line and up from Vikersund Station by truck.