North Dakotans honor skiing hero Sondre Norheim

Published: Sep. 25, 2018 at 5:31 PM CDT
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At the start of each year's Norsk Hostfest, folks visit the resting place of one incredible North Dakotan.

The father of modern skiing, Sondre Norheim, moved from Norway to Denbigh N.D., and once again people gathered to honor his legacy.

Sondre Norheim was born in Telemark County, Norway. He immigrated to America in hopes for a better life for his family.

More than one 120 years later, North Dakota still honors the skiing hero.

"Sondre Norheim was a great man in Norway. He was very famous in his time. He is from Telemark, the county where we come from. We are very proud of him. And the people of Minot have honored him to mark his grave and doing this ceremony and we consider it a privilege to be here,” said Rolf Haugen Skien, Norway’s City manager.

The day focused on Norheim is meant as window into the past.

"We recall the wonderfulness of Sondre Norheim. And how he invented the ski bindings so skis wouldn't slip away. And also it's a point of reflecting on all of the people that settled in this area. The pioneers that came here to this land. They made a choice not only impacted them but many others,” said Chuck Repnow, the master of ceremonies.

Norheim is honored once a year in the Peace Garden State, but he's highly regarded in Norway, as well.

"It's amazing to think that they still light the Olympic torch from his home in Norway when they have skiing. And it tell a little bit about how he is revered in Norway. They actually have a Sondre Norheim day there,” said Repnow.

It's been said that Norheim was a modest man. His neighbors in North Dakota didn't know he was a legend in Norway.

"Reflect on what he brought here to North Dakota. He was well known there and he died a popper here but today he is recognized and honored,” said Repnow.

Skien is Minot's sister city in Norway, but to some it's more than that.

"We are 4,000 miles away from Minot in Skien, but I am never closer to home than when I am in Minot,” said Rolf Haugen.

For years Sondre Norheim's grave went unmarked but now he is immortalized with a head stone and flags.