Soaring Hugsted becomes Kongsberg's king
While so much attention was focused on the return of the legendary Birger Ruud, the gold medal actually went elsewhere. Not to another country, in fact barely to another street – for victory went to another athlete from the same town as Ruud.
The Norwegian jumping team was extremely strong and Petter Hugsted was as good as anyone. He came from Kongsberg, the same small Norwegian town as Birger Ruud and his brothers. In 1940, Hugsted had won the junior title at Holmenkollen, the annual skiing festival in Norway, which is exceptionally keenly contested.
His career had then been halted by the Second World War, and when he resumed competing in 1946 he didn't cut quite as impressive a figure. In 1946, he was ninth in the Norwegian championship, and then sixth the following season. But there were few signs of the triumph that was to come.
His first-round jump in St Moritz saw him soar 65m to earn second place behind the young Finnish jumper Matti Pietikäinen. A silver medal was probably beyond Hugsted's expectation, but his Games were about to get even better.
In the second round, he produced the performance of his life, clearing 70m. He was the only athlete to reach that mark, and it was enough to allow him to overtake Pietikäinen and claim the gold medal, leading home a Norwegian clean sweep.
Hugsted was a very talented sportsman, who had played football for his country's B-team, and he was not easily overwhelmed. He claimed that that winning the Olympic title had been easier than winning the sport’s well-known Holmenkollen trophy, which is open to all-comers. “In the Olympic Games, you only jump against four Norwegians,” he said. “In Holmenkollen, you face 50.”