The ski-in / Columns / The Foreigner

The ski-in. Native Norwegians make cross-country skiing look like a glide-stepping walk in the park. As expats in Norway have heard a thousand times, this is because Norwegian babies are born with skis on. An atrocious thought, sure, but if you visit any cross-country trail in the Oslomarka on a sunny day, you'll see how plausible it is. Children as young as three zoom right by you: without poles; without fear. Only kids who are too young to walk get away with being too young to ski. I hopped on the cross-country skiing bandwagon with both feet, our first winter in Norway, and promptly slipped and fell into the snow. We joined a group of other beginning skiers at the Frognerseteren trailhead. It was a cloudy January day, but bright and not too cold. Our leader immediately took us off the beaten path and into the snow-logged woods of the marka; a sink-or-ski approach, let’s say. There were no tracks to guide us, so our group was forced to shuffle forward, ankle deep in snow. There was no chance to see or practice the kick-glide technique necessary to master the sport.

skiing, oslo, cross-country, norway



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The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

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The ski-in

Published on Saturday, 12th April, 2014 at 12:44 under the columns category, by Audrey Camp.
Last Updated on 12th April 2014 at 13:06.

Native Norwegians make cross-country skiing look like a glide-stepping walk in the park. As expats in Norway have heard a thousand times, this is because Norwegian babies are born with skis on.

Swix wax thermometer
Getting the wax type vs. temperature and conditions balance right is essential for successful skiing, even for novices.Swix wax thermometer
Photo: aslakr/Flickr


An atrocious thought, sure, but if you visit any cross-country trail in the Oslomarka on a sunny day, you'll see how plausible it is. Children as young as three zoom right by you: without poles; without fear. Only kids who are too young to walk get away with being too young to ski.

I hopped on the cross-country skiing bandwagon with both feet, our first winter in Norway, and promptly slipped and fell into the snow. We joined a group of other beginning skiers at the Frognerseteren trailhead. It was a cloudy January day, but bright and not too cold. Our leader immediately took us off the beaten path and into the snow-logged woods of the marka; a sink-or-ski approach, let’s say. There were no tracks to guide us, so our group was forced to shuffle forward, ankle deep in snow. There was no chance to see or practice the kick-glide technique necessary to master the sport.

At the same time, taking us off the popular ski trail was a safety measure: it kept our squirrely crowd out from underfoot of the much better – and slightly fanatic – Norwegians. I learned that lesson the hard way on my first night-ski outing a couple of weeks later.

Night skiing is important in Norway. The sun sets before most people leave work in the wintertime. Many trails around the city are lighted. Skiing at night appealed to me, I envisioned myself swishing softly over crystalline snow, shimmering under yellow streetlamps standing between the trees.

The Norwegians made grunting noises, stepping out of the tracks to speed around me, while I scrambled to stay upright. They flew down the long hills and barreled around the iced-out corners. I made it less than a quarter of the way around the lake before walking back to the metro, defeated.

There were many more false-starts, but I began to learn along the way. I learned about the importance of smør - the Norwegian word for ski wax, which also translates to butter.

The art of buttering one's skis is akin to religion in Norway, and choosing the right wax is based on the weather, air temperature, and condition of the snow. The wax is color-coded by temperature-rating: red is above freezing, violet at freezing, blue down to about -15 Celsius.

It was colder than that when we took our first skiferie (ski holiday). Green wax weather.

It had become clear we needed to get away from Oslo in order to improve as skiers, somewhere more remote. We picked Geilo, a ski town about halfway between Oslo and Bergen by train. Bundled up from toes to crown, we hauled our freshly waxed skis down to the flat lake track and began.

Water froze in our bottles. My breath froze on my scarf. But we managed the kicking and gliding, and we skied through the bright white landscape, our skis tight in the freshly groomed tracks. We didn’t see another soul for hours.

Cross-country skiing was suddenly a pleasure. We could go at our own pace having the trail to ourselves. We could stop and stand in the middle of the trail to enjoy the typical Norwegian mid-ski break: a frozen Kvik Lunsj bar. When we wiped out on a minor, icy downhill, we could regroup without embarrassment. We were hooked.

With a little more time in the marka, and the encouragement of our Norwegian friends, by next winter, we could even be mistaken for a couple of Norwegian toddlers on the slopes.

Audrey Camp is a freelance writer and American expat living in Oslo with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her essays have appeared in a variety literary magazines and anthologies, including Inspiring Generations: 150 Years, 150 Stories from Yosemite. Audrey blogs about life in Norway at The Girl Behind the Red Door. To learn more, visit audreycamp.com., Twitter: @audreycamp.



Published on Saturday, 12th April, 2014 at 12:44 under the columns category, by Audrey Camp.
Last updated on 12th April 2014 at 13:06.

This post has the following tags: skiing, oslo, cross-country, norway.





  
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