OSLO, Norway (Mar. 1) – The residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Norway took on a festive atmosphere this week as the U.S. Nordic World Championship Team was hosted by Ambassador Barry White to a reception during the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo. The historic Villa Otium played host to over 50 athletes, coaches and parents in Norway for the World Championships at Holmenkollen.
“It’s a real honor to have the U.S. Ski Team with us here in Oslo,” said White, who was named Ambassador in Oct., 2009. “I know you came close to a medal today in nordic combined and we wish you luck the remainder of the Championships.”
It was a repeat visit for some athletes who visited with the Ambassador during the Holmenkollen Ski Festival last March.
“It’s been just about a year since we visited here and it’s good to see that you’ve become a real fan of the U.S. Ski Team,” said Kikkan Randall in addressing the Ambassador on behalf of the athletes. Randall won a stunning World Cup victory a week earlier in nearby Drammen. “It’s always exciting for us to come to Norway.”
Randall and her teammates presented the Ambassador, and his wife Eleanor, with special U.S. Ski Team hats from the Team’s official uniform supplier, Bj Sport of Norway.
“Just today we announced a long term partnership with the clothing line of Norway’s greatest skier, Bjorn Daehlie,” said the Team’s Nordic Director John Farra. “So we wanted to be sure the Ambassador had the latest hat to cheer us on this week at Holmenkollen.”
Villa Otium is one of the most noted Ambassador’s Residences in the world. Built in 1911, it was designed by renowned Norwegian architect Henrik Bull for Hans Andreas Olsen, the Norwegian Consul General at St. Petersburg and his wife Ester, the niece of Alfred Nobel. The building recalls a Russian palace the family admired. The property comprises the old “Otium,” or park meant for leisure. It was sold to the United States Government in 1924 for $125,000, reportedly making it the most expensive American residence abroad at the time and requiring Congressional approval. The Norwegian Preservation Agency has identified the Villa Otium as significant historical architecture.
Ambassador White is a Boston native and serving in his first role as Ambassador.
The World Championships reached the midway point Monday as the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team came within 14 seconds of a medal. Action continues at Oslo’s Holmenkollen Ski Stadium through Sunday.
Ben Theyerl was born into a family now three-generations into nordic ski racing in the US. He grew up skiing for Chippewa Valley Nordic in his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before spending four years racing for Colby College in Maine. He currently mixes writing, politics, and skiing (not necessarily all related) while based out of Crested Butte, CO, where he coaches the best group of high schoolers one could hope to find.