Founded on 2 November 1957, Lillehammer IK was a pioneer of ice hockey in the northern areas of eastern Norway. Playing under difficult conditions on natural ice for the first thirty years, success was limited to the odd foray into the second tier of the hockey league. However, they produced some fine talents, two of them brothers Arne and Lars Bergseng, who went on to become two of the best players in the first division during the 1980s.
The big break for the hockey club was Lillehammer's candidacy for the 1994 Winter Olympics. In this process the Kristins Hall hockey arena was built and opened in 1988. The city got its Olympics, and the hockey club their boost. Backed by enormous local interest they surged from the third division to the Eliteserien in only three years, but the success would not stop there. In the spring of 1994, after the Olympics was over, Lillehammer beat local rivals Storhamar Dragons in the playoff finals to claim their first, and to date only Norwegian Championship.