Trains loaded with snow have been rattling into this usually frozen capital in a costly battle to create the winter that wasn't and save an annual tradition.

A record warm winter threatened to melt away the Holmenkollen Ski Festival, which begins Thursday, so organizers hauled in 5,600 tons of snow by rail at about 1.5 cents a pound to rescue the event."Snow costs about the same per pound as wholesale sugar," said Knut Almquist, secretary general of the Association for Promotion of Skiing, which has organized the annual festival since 1892.

Last month was the mildest January ever recorded in Oslo and southern Norway.