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The secret to skiing is in the details

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 pioneer of modern skiing.

However, the world of skiing has moved on since the mid­ 19th century (thank goodness!), and skiing in Norway today could just as well be about snowboarding or twin tip terrain park action – or even snowkiting.

At the high mountain ski resorts the season lasts from autumn through spring, and – if based at a glacier – some are even open through the summer. Whilst there arecross­-country tracks 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 on where and when to go, so much as on 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 cross­-country skiing trip in the forest with your backpack filled with fresh oranges and thermoses full of hot chocolate or blackcurrant toddy, 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 bring. Then you’ll blend in with the Norwegians in no time.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

Cross-­country skiing has a special place in Norwegian culture and history, as well as being a favourite pastime during winter. Over the years, skiing has moved from being a means of transportation, to pure, social fun – though sometimes used for hardcore fitness purposes as well. A ski marathon called Birkebeinerrennet attracts hoards of Norwegians year after year.

Norway has traditionally dominated the skiing world cup and olympic events, and skiers like Bjørn Dæhlie, Marit Bjørgen, Therese Johaug and Petter Northug are, or have been, among the greatest sports stars in the country.

Advanced skiers come to Norway to go ski touring in the mountainside, and will often times discover untouched nature that is much more difficult to reach in summer. Adventurers should familiarize themselves with the local conditions and the weather, though, as avalanches sometimes occur in the mountains, usually during or just after major snowfalls.

Newbies should start with easier groomed slopes, which you will find in most parts of Norway, even in the coastal areas, during the winter (which are family-friendly and perfectly safe). The largest and most popular ski destinations are located in the mountains in central, eastern and southern Norway, like Holmenkollen in Oslo, Gålå, Sjusjøen in the county of Hedmark, Hovden in Setesdal, and Geilo in the valley of Hallingdal.

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ALPINE SKIING

If you are a family in search of child-friendly destination or a group of adults looking for resorts that are not too crowded, Norway is the place for you. Helpful English-speaking staff, child-friendly facilities and plenty of snow characterise Norway’s downhill resorts.

Imagine being three years old and skiing down a hillside for the first time. What an adventure! It was at this age one of our greatest alpine heroes, Aksel Lund Svindal, took on his first full day of skiing. The feeling is something he still treasures.

Why skiing in Norway is more than curves and snow

Norway is considered a skiing paradise by many, and not just because of the long season or the great snow conditions. The main reason is that there is something for everybody on offer here. Play in the children’s slopes, cruise down a red piste, or chase the perfect powder further up in the mountains – the important thing is that you have fun when you do it.

You’ll find family-friendly resorts all over the country, and most of them have ski schools and staff who are happy to teach the children to stay on their feet. Common to all facilities is that they work hard to be both safe and enjoyable at the same time. Many resorts have ski lifts literally right on your doorstep – which also means that you can ski all the way back to your room after a long day in the slopes. And after a quick change of clothes, you can lean back and relax with tasty and often local food and drinks in front of you.

Off the beaten track

If you crave thrilling off-piste and backcountry skiing experiences in untamed surroundings, look no further than Norway.

Do you get your skiing kicks from exploring untouched territory, far away from well-prepared skiing slopes and efficient lift systems? In that case, you have come to the right place. Your options for ski touring adventure in Norway, a country dominated by vast mountain ranges, are seemingly limitless.

From glaciated peaks rising directly from the Arctic seas to breathtaking fjordscapes and remote alpine summits, there are off-piste areas to accommodate every taste. And with local experts on hand to guide you to the best places, unforgettable expeditions await skiers irrespective of skill and experience.

Stay safe and find out about the avalanche risk before you set out. You can check the avalanche forecasts at varsom.no.

Take your skiing passion further on a sail to ski adventure where a boat will be both your accommodation and your means of transport. Head to the Sunnmøre Alps or the Hjørundfjord for crowd-free runs with fresh powder snow, or venture inland to areas like Jotunheimen to put your skills to the test in classic Norwegian mountain terrain with the deepest snow.

For an exotic Norwegian ski touring trip, choose a destination up north, where the skiing action is likely to be amplified by a sighting of the northern lights. A few destinations to check out in Northern Norway are the Lofoten islands, the Lyngen alps and the island of Senja.

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