Skiing like a Norwegian can be deeply rooted in traditions and rituals. Or you can forget all about that, and just focus on the adrenaline surging drops and big jumps.
Coming to Norway, you will probably be told the history of legendary Norwegian Sondre Norheim, the inventor of the world's first relatively stable ski binding and often credited as the big pioneer of modern skiing.
However, the world of skiing has moved on since the mid19th century (thank goodness!), and skiing in Norway today could just as well be about snowboarding or twin tip terrain park action – or even snow kiting.
At the high mountain ski resorts the season lasts from fall through spring, and – if based at a glacier – some are even open through the summer. While there are crosscountry trails and alpine resorts all over the country, the largest and most popular destinations are located in the mountains in central and eastern Norway. In addition to lifts, slopes and trails, these will offer accommodation, good foods and nightlife.
If you want a genuine and traditional Norwegian skiing experience, however, you should perhaps not focus as much on technique, or even where and when to go, so much as the relevant traditions. Winter activities are deeply ingrained in Norwegian culture, which explains why there are as many rituals (and opinions) as there are groomed pistes.
Try a crosscountry skiing trip in the forest, and fill your backpack with fresh oranges, and thermoses full of hot chocolate or blackcurrant cordial, a Norwegian “matpakke” (packed lunch), and foam pads for your sitting comfort.
And before you get into your gear and strap on the skis, talk to a local to get the details right – like what brand of chocolate to buy. Then you’ll blend in with the Norwegians in no time.
You can easily spot them as they dance their way down the slopes. Telemark skiing is practised by a small group of dedicated enthusiasts all over the world – committed to the ultimate combination of elegance and raging speed.
Telemark skiing differs from regular alpine skiing in style and equipment and has been described as the most rhythmic and flowing way to descend a mountain.
With the commercialization of recreational skiing and the growth of ski resorts, the Telemark skiing technique failed to catch on. By the 1950s, the Telemark turn was close to becoming a forgotten treasure. However, the 1980s saw a revival of the style, and today Telemark skiing is popular in the many ski resorts in Norway
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If you thought that springtime signals the end of the skiing season, remember that there are high-altitude resorts in Norway where you can have fun on snow all summer long.
However, getting an early start is essential. The glaciers can be icy at first, but will soften with the first rays of sun to provide hours of good skiing. By about midday, the slopes might turn to slush – a perfect time for a cold beer, a swim and some sunbathing.
When these summer ski centres open and close depends on the snow and weather conditions, so check the snow report before you go.
Watch this video from Stryn Summer Ski Centre.
Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.
Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, and spectacular glaciers. Preserving this landscape, its communities, and the way of life is essential for locals and visitors alike.
Norwegian philosophy is very much that conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Enjoying nature and the outdoors is considered a national pastime, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the preservation and use of the wilderness.
Whether it’s skiing in the mountains or on the trail, Norwegians try to leave as small a footprint as possible. Leave it as you would like to find it is the mantra, regardless of where you are.
Quality of life is what it is all about, not only now, but for the time to come as well. It’s about recognizing that everybody else are just as important as ourselves, and taking steps to implement that thought in all aspects of life. It’s neither easy nor quickly done. But it is definitely worth it.
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