Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Olav Bjaaland was born in Morgedal, Telemark, Norway. At the turn of the century, Bjaaland, together with the Hemmestveit brothers were among the best skiers in Norway. In 1903, he won the Nordic combined at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival, to this day the classic event in Nordic skiing. In 1909 Bjaaland, together with five others were invited to France to compete with the best skiers of Europe. On the trip Bjaaland met Roald Amundsen who invited him to come along on his forthcoming North Pole expedition.
Bjaaland was thrilled, and still believing that they where heading to the North Pole, they left Oslo, Norway on June 7,1910. Upon learning that they instead where heading south to pick up the race against Robert Falcon Scott, Bjaaland had shouted: Hurrah, that means we’ll get there first!.
Bjaaland was a skilled carpenter, and on the trip he managed to reduce the prefabricated sledges bought in Oslo (Scott had bought the same type of sledges for his expedition, although never modified them) from 88 kg to 22 kg, without reducing their strength notably. On the trip to the pole Bjaaland was often used as a forerunner so that the dogs had something to run after. After returning from the successful conquest of the pole, Bjaaland was asked to go north with Amundsen to explore the Northeast Passage, but turned down the offer.
In 1912, Bjaaland was awarded the Holmenkollen medal , one of the highest medals a skier can win. In later years he went back to Telemark and successfully set up a ski-factory with money lent from Amundsen.
- http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/igy1/olav.html (50th Anniversary of Amundsens Expedition)
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