Spinning Success: Interview with Olve Norderhaug

26 June 2024

Spinning Success: Interview with Olve Norderhaug

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Olve Norderhaug, the driving force behind the success of Trysil Bike Arena in Norway.

From the beginning, Trysil has focused on children and families and has thus developed a prime example of a family-friendly bike offer. Within 10 years they have developed the most popular MTB destination in Norway. 

With an impressive 19-year career in the tourism industry in Trysil, Olve has been an integral part of the Trysil Bike Arena project since its inception in 2013. As the Manager, he has overseen the development of an extensive network of purpose-built trails, including 75 kilometers of meticulously crafted routes, 100 kilometers of signed singletracks, and the establishment of four bike parks equipped with jumps, skills areas, and pumptracks.

Drawing in a staggering 90,000 bike days during the 5-month-long season, Trysil Bike Arena has become a hub for mountain biking enthusiasts and families looking for new adventures. 

Olve leads a dedicated team of 35 professionals focused on trail building and maintenance, ensuring the highest quality experience for visitors. Beyond the adrenaline-pumping trails, the project spearheaded by Olve has brought about a substantial positive impact on the local economy, creating a ripple effect of growth year after year.

Join us as we delve into Olve Norderhaug’s journey, insights, and the transformative impact of Trysil Bike Arena on both the biking community and the local community it calls home.

Interview with Olve Norderhaug

Interview with Olve Norderhaug

Can you briefly introduce yourself and your way into trail building? 

Growing up in Trysil in the 80’s we spent all our time outside, skiing in winter and biking in summer. Together with my friends we built our first short trails and small jumps when we were 8-9 years old. As I got older biking became more gravel oriented with the purpose of endurance training, and for quite a few years I almost did not ride trails at all. I picked it back up around 2010 when I bought my first full suspension enduro bike.  

My professional career as a trail builder started in 2014 when I became project manager for the development of Trysil Bike Arena. With guidance and trail builder training for the first seasons from Bike Solutions I gradually took over the role of trail design, training and leading the local trail building crew. Since 2014 we have built about 75 km of purposed built bike trails in Trysil.

What is the best and worst part of being a trail builder? 

The best part of being a trail builder would be to work with the natural features of the terrain and turn them into creative and fun trails that makes everyone stoked for more. The worst part is when mother nature is challenging you with heavy rain, turning everything into mud.

What is the project you are most proud of – and why? 

The entire Trysil Bike Arena project has been a tremendous journey. With about 45 trails, from easy beginner trails to pro lines, we have created a unique trail system with great diversity for riders at all levels. This has put Trysil as the #1 MTB destination of Scandinavia, and we are still developing and expanding the trail network and rider experience.

What positive impacts have you seen trail building have in your region, and what are some common challenges or negative aspects? 

Trysil Bike Arena has made a huge impact on the local economy, with a net revenue since the beginning of 625 MNOK (55 M Euros). We have seen new businesses developing and prosper, more jobs have been created and the local bike community has grown immensely.
Our biggest challenge so far has been to get sufficient funding for trail maintenance, as they are free for everyone to use by the Norwegian “right to roam” law. There is also a challenge to get enough qualified and experienced trail builders.

3 things that would benefit the future of trail building? 

We need to raise the awareness and reputation of the trail building profession, educate more trail builders and ensure the quality of their expertise. Climate and environmental challenges will make our job even more important in the future, to ensure sustainable development.

Photo credit: Jonas Sjögren/Trysil