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Oslo 1952 Torch Relay Getty Images

Route design and details

The flame was “symbolic” rather than “Olympic”, as it was not lit at Olympia. The route of the relay was designed to commemorate the origins of skiing.

It was at the house of Sondre Norheim, a Norwegian skiing legend of the 19th century, that Olav Bjaaland, one of the members of the 1911 South Pole expedition, kindled at Morgedal (county of Telemark) a “symbolic Nordic” flame. This was a way of recalling that torches had long been used in Norway to allow skiers to see their way in the dark. In addition, the county of Telemark, and Morgedal in particular, were regarded as the cradle of slalom and ski jumping. Indeed, some of the great names in Norwegian skiing had come from there, like the Svalastoga and Hemmestveit brothers. The latter had created the world’s first ski school, in Oslo. Modern competition skis are also based on the skis from Telemark.

On the same day, the torch was carried to the monument to Sondre Norheim in Morgedal. The next day, it was taken to the house of Birger Ruud, a famous Norwegian skier; and on the following day to the Huseby hill, a former competition venue west of Oslo.

At the Opening Ceremony, the last torchbearer, Eigil Nansen, carried the torch around the Bislett Stadium on skis before removing them and climbing the stairs to light the cauldron, where the flame would burn throughout the Games.

Oslo 1952 Relay route IOC

Start date: 13 February 1952, Morgedal (Norway)
End date: 15 February 1952, Bislett Stadium, Oslo (Norway)
First torchbearer: A representative of the third generation of the well known Hemmestveit skiing family.
Last torchbearers: Eigil Nansen, grandson of the famous Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen
Number of torchbearers: 94 skiers
Recruitment of torchbearers: -
Distance: ~225 km
Countries visited: Norway
Oslo 1952 Torch IOC Description: The torch consisted of a cylindrical handle topped with a flat oval bowl engraved with the Olympic rings and the year 1952 as well as the words Morgedal-Oslo linked by an arrow.
Colour: Silver and gold
Length: 22 cm (handle only)
Composition: Brass and steel alloy
Fuel: -
Designer / Manufacturer: Geir Grung / Adolf Thoresen

Did you know?

This was the first torch relay in the history of the Olympic Winter Games. Symbolic fires were lit for the Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 and St Moritz in 1948. However, these fires were not brought by relay.


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