The DIRTT Dissemination Seminar took place between September 7th and 8th at the Vestlia Resort in Geilo, Norway. This village in the Hallingdal region is a great example of a destination that has developed an all year round offer, an ideal setting to discuss the future of mountain biking and trail building. Bike park Vestlia offers something for everyone, hosting Hallingdals largest pumptrack which has fast become the place for families and friends to gather.
The Seminar coincided with the start of the 1st European Mountain Bike Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance study program at Fagskolen i Viken. Attendees were given an opportunity to see first hand what the program entailed, meeting both tutors and students in the field during practical sessions. Over the two days, the project consortium presented and discussed the results achieved by the DIRTT project, outlining how the Educational Framework has been applied, now and in the future.
The Wednesday program included informative and inspiring presentations from a variety of speakers which gave valuable insights into how trail building is not only transforming as a profession, but how it is transforming destinations and regions. The demand to develop all year round offers for both summer and winter is increasing around the world. The opening by Haaken Christensen from Innovation Norway set the tone for the afternoon, with a speech on trail building innovation in Norway, and how the sector has rapidly matured into what we see today. The impending and current threat of climate change to ski destinations, particularly the low mountains is increasingly obvious with reduced annual snow days. Mountain biking can offer a solution to destinations under threat, and looking at expanding their offer as well as developing a more sustainable offer. Olve Norderhaug, project leader Trysil Bike Arena told the story of how mountain biking has transformed Norway’s largest ski resort into an ‘all year round’ family destination.
After some thought provoking statements and reflections from Olve Norderhaug, it was time to hit the trails and meet the Fagskolen TrailBuilding students. During the afternoon session, attendees had the opportunity to experience first hand trail building education in the field. Led by world class instructors, attendees took a deep dive into trail building craft, with a guided tour of the trails around Geilo.
The Thursday morning session was dedicated to disseminating the outcomes and results of the DIRTT Project. This session was live streamed via Vimeo, which attracted an audience from all over Europe. The opening remarks were given by Nils Ivar Pedersen the vice-Rector and General Manager of Fagskolen i Viken. Nils spoke about why Trail building as Vocational Education and Training is needed, and how Fagskolen became the institution to make this possible. The next part of the program was presented by Lars Wraae Jensen, the project leader of DIRTT, who presented the main outcomes of the DIRTT project and how these resources will be utilised in the future. Leading on from this, Mark Torsius from IMBA Europe (project partner) presented the vision for the future of trail building in Europe- how to transition from a project to a permanent structure. Mark’s presentation was the perfect segue into Helene Mallasvik from Fagskolen i Viken presentation of DIRTT 2.0 – how to move from an Educational Framework to a European Certification Framework.
To finish off the morning, Graeme McLean, head of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland demonstrated how Scotland has used the DIRTT project to implement a national trail building and maintenance program for volunteers. DMBiS has run several of these volunteer programs over the course of the year, which has been very successful and useful in skills development of the volunteers. At the conclusion of the official seminar, attendees were given the option to extend their stay and in cooperation with IMBA Europe, learn more about trail building innovation in Norway. The extended program included a site visit to Flå/Høgevarde where Glen Jacobs from World Trails is currently working on one of Europe’s new dream destinations for mountain biking. Harald Haaland, responsbile for the destination & bussines development of the area, presented the rationale behind the project and the trails master plan before taking the attendees out to take a look at some of the finished trails and the more progressive ones that were still under construction.
The event was a fantastic insight into the future of trail building in Europe, as well as a great networking opportunity for all stakeholders in the mountain biking community. We are looking forward to continuing our organisation’s involvement in the important work of the DIRTT Project, which strives to further professionalise the sector, and help grow the sport of mountain biking.