John F. Russell: Chance to enjoy rare view in Holmenollen is dream of former Steamboat resident.

John F. Russell

— Lauren Browne has traveled to many places around the world, but her experience on a recent trip stands head-and-shoulders above any other place she has ever spent the night.

Crowne, a former women’s ski jumper who grew up in Steamboat Springs, won a contest earlier this year, and the prize was a chance to spend the night in a temporary hotel room at the top of arguably the world’s most famous ski jump — the Holmenkollen, located in Oslo, Norway.

“It was a dream come true,” Browne said of the night she spent with her husband, Bill, at the top of the jump. “It looks out over Oslo and also looked out over the fjords. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever had.”

A friend convinced Browne to enter the Air BnB contest to spend a night at the top of the jumps by posting on her Facebook page. AirBnB is a travel website that allows people to make connections with other people around the world who have rooms or other spaces available for rent. Air BnB runs several contests a year in which winners can spend the night in a unique space. In this case, the company transformed a warm-up room at the top of the jump into a five-star hotel room. As part of the deal, Browne and her husband were treated to a 15-course meal and the opportunity to spend the night high above Olso.

It was perfect for Browne, who ski jumped in Steamboat Springs from 2002 to 2004 when she was known by her maiden name, Lauren Walsh. These days, she lives in Denver with her husband,

Browne acknowledges she initially laughed when she saw her friend’s post, but after thinking about the opportunity, she entered the contest, which included writing a short story to convince the judges to pick her for the honor of spending the night on the jump.

“When I was competing I dreamed of the chance to compete at Holmenkollen,” Browne said. “So I wrote about Carl Howelsen and his connection to the town of Steamboat Springs, how his ideas helped shape the community and connected it to Norway.”

The judges must have appreciated the connection between Steamboat Springs and the man who has his own place in the historic Holmenkollen jumping complex.

“They have the image of Carl Howelsen on a Barnum & Bailey poster there,” Browne said. “They are a very prideful country, and I think they appreciated how Steamboat Springs embraced Howelsen’s ideas and made it a part of their community.”

Browne learned just a few days before her stay that she had won the contest. She flew almost immediately to Norway, and her husband, who had work obligations, met her a few days later. The couple spent a week in the historic Norwegian city, cross-county skiing, practicing biathlon and, for one night, enjoying the opportunity to sleep on top of the world with a view that few people have ever had.

Browne didn’t ever get the chance to ski jump at Holmenkollen, but getting to spend an evening there was a blast. Thanks to a zip line that runs from the top of the complex to the landing area far below crown, she did have a chance to scream over the jump — but she admits it wasn’t the way she had hoped to do it.

“Riding the zip line is different than jumping at Holmenkollen,” Brownesaid. “Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, but jumping is just different. The whole experience was the best time I’ve ever had.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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