I made my second annual trip to Norway last week. Oslo looked terrible, having recieved and lost it’s snow 3 times already this season according to Terje. PS, Terje knows his sushi. On the way to Lillehammer, things didn’t look any better. Lillehammer looked like it had been done over by a christmas card company except for the fact that it was all rock hard ice.
So, I was getting nervous as we headed up toward Sjusjeon where I was to spend the next 3 days before my conference. I needn’t have worried. What had come as rain in Lillehammer was clearly snow in the mountains. And what a place it was. Sjusjeon is right alongside the Norwegian Birkiebeiner trail, at the high point I think. From there it’s about a 10k mad descent to the finish line. For me it was hours and hours of skiing where I literally walked out my door and skied. There are 250K+ trails there wandering off in every direction. You can go hard with hills everywhere. You can go easy with flat sections around lakes and valley bottoms. You can find easy or hard ways up the hills. I stayed at an old hotel called the Rustad that had very basic rooms, but a beautiful lodge that included, bestill my beating heart, a large waxing room with supplied stands. The place also included breakfast and dinner with price of the hotel. Basically, get up, eat, prepare skis, ski, ski, ski, yoga, sauna, shower, eat, read, sleep.
Like all of Norway, the trails are biased a bit towards classic skiing. First of all the snow tends to be drier than here in the midwest. The one day I did skate it was a humid -3c and my skis sounded like I was skiing on fresh -20 snow: squeak, squeak, crunch. While the trails are groomed with one or two tracks with a skating lane in the middle, the tracks get a *lot* more use so the skating area wasn’t nearly as set as I am used to here. I bet I didn’t see more than 1 in 50 skating, even among the serious skiers of which there were plenty. So I just went with the flow and had the best classic skiing I have enjoyed since, well honestly, since the last time is was in Norway. I hope the pictures turn out.
By the end of the week, I had 14 hours of skiing in, including 3 on alpine skis, and 3 1/2 on the last day with some of the other geeks I met at the conference. That day also included the unique thrill of seeing our car, having abdoned all hope of going up a hill on the ice in Lillehammer, slide down backwards, increasing in speed towards an unsuspecting pedestrian, until finally stopping in a snowbank. In all I more than doubled my on snow time here in Wisconsin. Our snow had completely melted just before I left, but we have a meager 6 inches now that will keep me moving until the next drop.