Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 22, 2019


New ski slope, lift on Sukkertoppen expected to open soon after long delay
A 140-meter-long ski slope and tow lift near the center of Longyearbyen that has been seven years in the making is now under construction and expected to be completed within a few weeks. Work on pilings and other preparations, including the lift that was transferred from its old location across the street from Longyearbyen School, began last Friday near the pointed-roof houses beneath Sukkertoppen. The lift, able to tow up to five youths uphill at once, will be under official city supervision, but adult volunteers will be primary responsible for actual operations. The project received a 750,000 grant from the Svalbard Environmental Protection fund seven years ago, but numerous circumstances including major avalanches in the area resulted in delays. The hill will include lighting for nighttime use and a sledding hill, and organizers are hoping to make additional upgrades in the future.

11 apply to be new priest at Svalbard Church
Five women and six men are seeking to be the next priest at Svalbard Church, including two women who have served temporary appointments to the position. Gitte Bergstuen, 51, a parish priest in Fluberg and Skute, was the summer priest at the church in 2016 and 2017. Ruth Irene Rasmussen, 57, a hospital priest in Larkollen, has also served. Applications, which had to be submitted by Jan. 20, noted being a priest at the world’s northernmost church comes with unusual requirements including numerous outdoor activities where carrying a rifle is required, long snowmobile and helicopter trips for services outside of Longyearbyen, and serving as an official local emergency crisis counselor. Arve Marton Marthinsen is currently the church’s interim priest, replacing Leif Magne Helgesen who departed last October after 12 years with the church.