Palace Blasted In Mountain. Couple Finds Hockey Beneath Them

Posted: February 17, 1994

GJOVIK, Norway — It is a candy cane house on top of Mount Hovdetoppen, pale yellow and solid brick. The view is stunning. Lake Mjosa twinkles below, and the quaint town is layered down from the back yard like a tiered cake.

This is the dream house of Aud and Odd Pedersen, a silver-haired couple who welcome strangers into their home with a smile and the request to please take off your shoes. The wood floors and lovely rugs appreciate when the melting snow and salt remain in the foyer.

For nine months, from April 1991 to January 1992, the Pedersens lived atop a volcano that exploded every day. For beneath this picture-perfect house lies the Gjovik Olympic Cavern Hall.

It is a hockey arena built as a cave into the middle of Mount Hovdetoppen. The arena is never warmer, or colder, than 48 degrees. It is one of only three arenas built into rock; the other two are in Finland.

More than 140,000 cubic meters of stone were dynamited out of the mountain. That's about 29,000 truckloads of rock. Every day. From 7 in the morning until 11 at night. Except Saturday, when the blasting went from 2 until 7. And Sunday, a day of quiet.

The Pedersens lived through all of this. They spent nine months watching tables shake, chairs rattle, lamps roll.

The builders were nice. They'd call a few minutes before the dynamite was lit. This would allow the couple to get ready, poised for a sprint toward whatever piece of furniture seemed most likely to topple next.

Windows would break constantly. Odd Pedersen, 63, said that every second day he would go into town, buy some new windows, put them in. Aud Pedersen, 65, speaks little English, but she describes sounds. "Boom-boom-boom-boom- boom," Aud Pedersen says, shaking a coffee table.

The Pedersens didn't have to stay, exactly. The city of Gjovik offered to move them, but the Pedersens didn't want to move. They've been in this house since 1970.

The Pedersens won't say how much they've been paid by the city for damages to the house, which they estimate at about $26,000. They hint that the amount is less than half of what they've spent, and they have a lawyer trying to get them a little more.

Of the $20 million showplace cavern below them, the Pedersens have nothing but wonderful things to say.

"It is beautiful, lovely," Aud Pedersen says.

The reception hall and cafeteria are just 20 feet below their living room, but the couple won't be seeing an Olympic hockey game in the cave.

All the tickets were sold before the Pedersens thought to buy any, and Aud Pedersen is too proud to ask for a freebie.

"I won't ask," she said. "I would like for someone to come to my door and offer me a ticket, but no one did. I thought that would be nice."

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