The Norwegians and cross-country skiing

“Can you imagine anything freer and more exciting than when you, swiftly as a bird, zoom down the wood-clad hillsides while country air and spruce twigs whiz by your cheeks and eyes; brain and muscles tense, ready to avoid any unknown obstacle which any moment might be thrown in your path? You are one with your skis and nature. This is something that develops not only the body but the soul as well, and it has a deeper meaning for people than most of us perceive.”

Who are we to disagree with Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), the famous Norwegian adventurer, scientist and humanitarian? Aged 27, he was the first man ever to explore the interior of Greenland, and he did so on cross-country skis!

Exploring the Gaustatoppen region

The Norwegians and their skis

It’s no secret that Norwegians are crazy about skiing, and the phrase goes that they are even born with skis on their feet. Whether this is true or not, it is a fact that the Norwegians have been doing cross-country skiing since prehistorical times, as artifacts and rock carvings have revealed us. During the 1800’s, the Norwegians were undoubtedly the biggest skiing innovators, developing the disciplines of slalom and Telemark skiing.

With other words, skiing has been an important part of the Norwegian culture since ages, and it continues to be so until today. When the first snow comes, the people hurry to the nearby forest or countryside to put their cross-country skis on. Throughout the snowy season, buses and trams moving out of the city centres are packed with people going to their favourite tracks with their whole families. In the weekends, or even after work or school. The ski destinations in the mountains, like Geilo and Voss, get cozily crowded then. But also in summer you might meet some people on skis. For the biggest ski enthousiasts, the perfect way of surviving long summers without snow, is to put some skis on with wheels!

Test av rulleski til lørdagsliv
How to survive a long summer without snow? Skis on wheels! – photo:

You want to join?

Good idea! Skiing is an amazing way of having some outdoor activity during winter, while fully enjoying the magnificent snowy landscapes of wintertime Norway. Whether you’re visiting the coast, the mountains or the capital city, there are enough possibilities if you want to try it for the first time, or if you’re a pro and want to have a serious training.

If you are a beginner, the best way to start is to take a trip to one of the easier slopes. They often have a hut where gear can be rented, and some places even offer introductory courses. As weather conditions can be tricky, especially in the mountains, it is a good idea to take a friend with you and to try it together! As you will see in Norway: skiing is suited for people of all ages, from the very young to the very old. Except for the extremely young maybe, but for them we have found a solution as well: the pulk!

Barn i pulk. Vinter, snø, foreldre, barn, ski, sol, påske.
If they’re too young to ski… – photo: TV2

Don’t disturb the Norwegians

During sunny weekends in winter, it might get crowded on the most popular slopes and cross-country tracks surrounding the cities. When going for a walk in the forests, make sure to take the paths that are reserved for pedestrians, as you might get in the way of the skiers if you take the ski tracks! If a skier is approaching you from behind, it is likely that he will be shouting “løype!” to you. This means, “track”, and is the Norwegian way of kindly asking you to step out of the way of the skier 🙂

With or without skis on your feet, the Norwegian winter landscapes are waiting for you to explore them! Take a look at our website, and start to plan your trip!

geilo ski
Skiing at Geilo

 written by Robin Van de Walle & Katarina Vlkova


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