Skiing: Easy to learn, impossible to master.
Perhaps I should preface this entry by mentioning; strenuous sporting activities are not my cup of tea. It’s not that i’m completely unfit, it’s just that i’m more used to a sedentary lifestyle, a conduct slightly out of place in Norwegian society. Despite this, I’ve discovered one sporting activity I adore, Downhill skiing.
It’s safe to say that Norway loves all forms of skiing. It’s ubiquitous almost everywhere here, and it is difficult to find a person who has never been. Wanting to see what all the fuss was about, I settled on downhill skiing.
All the gear, no idea.
There’s a fair few barriers to entry for this sport: type of skis, boots, poles, clothing and the rest. It’s very intimidating to stroll up to the ski section of any large sporting shop, look upon the sheer amount of wooden planks and go “yes, those planks of wood looks good to me”.
Thankfully the used market is strong for skis, therefore picking up a cheap bargain isn’t too difficult. As a result, I was able to pick up a pair of relatively decent carving skis, boots and poles and helmets for a fraction of the price.
In spite of never setting foot on a ski slope, I’d stuck with my philosophy that if I invest in the equipment, I’d be more likely to stick with. This is a bad idea, and those interested should of course try before you buy.
“I regret this decision already”
Ski slope? Check.
Ability to ski? We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
I’ll throw my hands up in the air and admit now, my first time skiing was not a success. A smart man would have found an instructor, rented some equipment and been gradually introduced to the sport. I was/am still not a smart man.
I live in Trondheim, which means I’m around 30 minutes away from a fun little ski center called Vassfjellet. It’s the perfect combination of easy bunny slopes and more challenging steep sections, a great place to learn.
Heading over there with my girlfriend (who can ski), I started getting the anxious feeling that I might be running before I can walk. This was illustrated quite quickly, I could barely stand up on a pair of skis, let alone hurl myself down a slope.
My girlfriend was saying all the encouraging words, and trying to provide helpful instructions, but it was all in vain. A combination of fear and frustration rendered me completely incapable of trying to move forward.
In my mind, the Norwegians were judging me. A grown(ish) adult who can’t ski? I almost felt the need to explain, “No, sorry, I’m British, this doesn’t come naturally to me!”, but I feel the point would have been mute.
With my tail between my legs, I admitted skiing was not for me.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Fast forward a few weeks, and my workplace had organised a work trip to the very same ski center. I had signed up before my first experience of skiing, and reluctantly decided that, if embarrassing in front of my significant other wasn’t enough, I might as well try in front of my colleagues too.
Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.Jake the dog
Yet, for some reason, there seemed to be a lot less pressure the second time around. I had already admitted to myself that I sucked, so I could only improve from there.
Miraculously, things made a bit more sense. I was able to stand up, ski skate around a bit, and practice my pizza and french fries. Who would have thought remaining calm and centered helps?
Being left alone, I started enjoying myself. I even set the goal of tackling the bunny slope before the days end.
This intimidating beast has a whopping 10 meter elevation change from top to bottom, a button lift for ascension and features the trickiest of tricky obstacle: small children.
Legs shaking, I succeeded in snowplowing my entire way down. Rinse repeat this a few more times, and my perception changed entirely. “What the heck, I love skiing now!”
I was even brave enough to interleave some parallel skis with my snowplows, and attempted some snowplow turns, with some success! My colleagues, checking in on my progress were quite supportive as well!
Having mastered the bunny slope, I left for the day elated at the endless possibilities this sport could bring.
Skiing Norway, Sweden and beyond!
To cut a long story short, I’ve been skiing for about two seasons now, and whilst i’m not great, I’m not awful either.
Parallel turns, parallel stops, and steep slopes are more comfortable for me now. Carving is still a work in progress, but I hope to get that one nailed down too.
Located where I am, I’ve also been fortunate enough to visit some fantastic resorts, such as Åre and Oppdal. Vassfjellet still holds a place close to my heart, so much that a season card is tucked in my coat, ready to go whenever I get the skiing itch.
Skiing to me is much more than being outdoors and active, it’s about having a blast with great company, in some incredibly beautiful parts of the world.
If you’ve never tried, but have the means to do so, please do. It’s an absolute riot, a guaranteed smile upon your face. However, heed my advice. Take some lessons!