Monday, 22 March 2010

Cross Country Skiing, Norway

On March 14th, myself, Alison and Susan headed to Norway for a week of XC skiing. Susan had done a bit of downhill before, but putting on skis was new to me and Alison. We were in for an exciting week!

We landed at Oslo airport and were met by Mary from Exodus and met up with the rest of our group. It was a 3.5 hour coach trip to our final destination of Kvitavatn (in the Telemark region). We could see the scenery for the first part of the journey, but then the night drew in and it was dark as we headed up higher into the mountains to our resort. All the little Norwegian houses looked so cozy in the snow.
On arrival we had dinner (3 course yummy meal) and then a briefing on the week ahead. The accomodation was great. Little bunkrooms which held 4 people in each.

Day 1:
After a nice bowl of porridge (yey!) we were kitted out with our gear, skis, poles and boots and then we waxed them up. There are loads of different waxes depending on the temperature and type of snow. We were split into groups (beginner and intermediate). Me and Alison were in the beginner group with Dutch instructor Ilse. We spent the morning learning various skills in the ski school. The Herring Bone was a tough one for me! After lunch it was back out for more skills, and then Sue (from Edinburgh Walkers) took the 3 of us out for a trip along the Fiolet and Orange XC loops. After another 3 course dinner, we had a talk on ski waxing. Every evening, Exodus put on a different talk or video on which was great.

Day 2:
Got up early and did a run with Susan around the Orange 5. The light on the mountains was so beautiful at that time. We got a funny look from the piste man, but hopefully he wasn't too annoyed with our little footsteps through his newly pisted tracks!?!
Back on the skis we did some more skills. Could feel my technique improving from yesterday. In the afternoon we went round the Fiolet loop as a group. Then a a few of us did the Orange 5. Dinner was pear and celery soup, fish and fruit crumble. All great food after a day of XC skiing! Our talk was on cold weather injuries! Some gruesome photos!

Day 3:
Another early morning run with Susan, this time going anticlockwise around the Orange 5. The running was tough on the snow, but a good way to loosen off all the aches and pains from the previous day's skiing! We had a whole day out on the skis today. Did a mixture of the Green route and some XC today. Ilse took us up a bit higher and we got an amazing view down towards Rjukan, and the valley where the heavy water plant from World War II was. Me and Alison went round the Fiolet route a few times when we got back for a bit of a practice. Heroes of Telemark video in the evening.

Day 4:
We changed instructors today and me and Alison had Mary, the English instructor. We went out for a full day again and had a really great time. Did just over 9 miles in total, and covered lots of different terrains. Over the hills, across the lake, through the trees. Was a really great day. Sue came along with us too. Cross country ski racing DVD for the evening entertainment.

Day 5:
Alison and I joined the intermediate group today for a whole day of adventure (back with Ilse). The best day yet! The weather was fantastic and we headed up into the hills. Some fantastic views and a really great bunch of people to be skiing with. At the highest point Susan donned the CAAC vest for a picture. I waited for a slightly warmer, more sheltered spot at lunch to pose for my picture. We had the Kvitavatn quiz for the evening entertainment, and our team 'Jamie's Angles' came 3rd (out of 4). Did you know that A-ha were the first Norwegian band to get a UK number one :-).

Day 6:
Final day of adventure and we headed our with Ilse for the most challenging day yet. The snow conditions were not the best. Very crunchy on the top and soft underneath, and higher up on the slopes it was very icy, which made for some tricky traverses on the skis. Today required a lot more concentration and leg work, but felt like quite a achievement after a week's tuition from our great instructors to have been able to do it! When we got back to the resort we had to clean our skiis, which involves a fair bit of elbow grease and the use of a hot iron! It was then over to the main house for our final dinner of chilli con carne and pancakes for pudding. The Danish XC Ski championships were taking place the next day, so the place was buzzing with Danes! We then settled down for an evening of Exodus picture slide show, a Norwegian beer and a final chat with our fellow skiers.What a fantastic week! Felt I learnt so much and have got a real taste for XC skiing. I'll definitely be doing some more! Met some great people over in Norway and the scenery is stunning! Can't believe Oslo is only 1.5 hours away on the plane from Edinburgh! Back home now and wish I was still out there, but looking forward to my downhill lessons at Hillend starting next month. I'll be back somewhere snowy next winter for some more adventures!

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