Skiing in Lillehammer/Svingvoll

The next day started out looking a bit bleak, but before we knew it the sun had come up and cleared away the worst of the fog. It also gave me an excellent view from my balcony. The life of a Fulbrighter is truly a hard one. (Yes, that was sarcasm).

IMG_9697  IMG_9700  IMG_9704After a hearty breakfast, the downhill crew made our way over to the ski lift. We consisted of four downhill skiers and one snowboarder. Now all of us have lived in some of the best ski states in the U.S. and are used to long lift lines, so in order to beat the crowds, we set off early hoping that we could beat a line at the lifts. We were actually astonished to find that we were pretty much the only people on the mountain. We only saw about four other people on our first few runs down the mountain, but the slopes were pretty much ours until about noon.

IMG_2748  IMG_2761  IMG_2750IMG_2762  IMG_2767  IMG_2768 IMG_2782Now the one modern ski lift happened to be connected to a black diamond slope (difficult slope) and a red slope (somewhere between difficult and intermediate). Now because we wanted a bit more variety and a few of us wanted some easier slopes, it rapidly became clear that we would have to explore the rest of the mountain. The only problem was that the other slopes had an older form of ski lift, namely a T-bar lift. Out of the five of us, only one of us had any idea of how to use the T-bar lift. So after a lot of encouragement and a brief explanation of how everything worked, the five of us tried out the T-bar lifts and managed quite successfully! We quickly transformed from being intimidated by the ski lift to feeling confident enough to Snapchat our friends and take selfies on the lift.

One thing that did make me laugh was looking at the color coding on the mountain. In the US we operate on a color scale (green, blue, red, and black) going from easy to difficult. I was expecting to see a good mix of all of the colors on the mountain, but the only green, or easy, trails that I noticed were on the paths between the ski lifts. In practice, this meant that the incline was either nonexistent or uphill. Clearly Norwegians believe in going big or going home when it comes to their skiing. It was blue or red slopes for me almost the entire weekend.

Most of us were a bit rusty at skiing or snowboarding, but after a while we soon found a rhythm and grew more confident. Skiing was also pretty successful the next day. We even got a small amount of fresh powder that helped make the slopes less icy, though the cloudy weather severely affected our depth of perception. I admit that I fell a few times on the second day, BUT I was assisted by a story that Abby told me. Abby hasn’t skied for a few years and was talking to her brother, who happens to be a ski patroller. He proceeded to comfort her by telling her about a woman who had died by running into a tree. Obviously his comfort strategy backfired a bit, but his piece of advice was that when losing control to just sit down or fall over. So when that happened to me, I simply sat down or fell on my side. Overall it worked quite well.

But all good things must come to an end. After a wonderful seminar and three days at the ski resort, we once again bundled onto the bus to return to our respective cities, but not before we took a group picture. After all, if there aren’t any pictures it didn’t happen.

Ski Trip Group Shot

Winter in Oslo

It seems as though the theme of February is Norwegian travel. The day after I got back from Røros I was yet again off on another trip. For those of you who are wondering, I do in fact really enjoy Trondheim and my travels do not reflect a desire to escape from it. This time my trip was somewhat mandatory. I was off to Oslo for the winter Fulbright seminar and ski retreat.

The seminar itself was on Thursday, but I was able to fly in on Wednesday. Because I arrived in the afternoon, I had some time to walk around the city. Having really loved my visit to Vigeland Park in August, I thought I’d pay it another visit to see if I could catch some snow on the park’s statues.

Unfortunately it was too warm for snow, but not too warm for ice. The park’s paths were incredibly icy, and to make matters worse the ice was melting. Because ice has more or less disappeared in Trondheim, I have stopped wearing ice grips on my shoes and didn’t bring them with me to Oslo. So when I initially saw the icy roads going through Vigeland Park my face fell. Lucky for me, I have managed to develop enough skill when it comes to walking on ice that I managed to avoid falling.

IMG_9397  IMG_9389  IMG_9401IMG_9417  IMG_9422  IMG_9432IMG_9446  IMG_9466  IMG_9493IMG_9472  IMG_9507  IMG_9483IMG_9514  IMG_9520  IMG_9524Even though I didn’t get to see any snow on the statues, I still had a great time walking around and seeing the park in winter. Vigeland Park still remains one of my favorite Oslo sights.

From there, I went back to the hotel to meet two other Fulbrighters, Alyssa and Meghan. The three of us set off on the 1 subway line for Frognerseteren. Our goal: sledding. Not just any sledding though, we were going out to Oslo’s most popular run, Korktrekkeren, or the Corkscrew. The run is 2000 meters (1.24 miles) long with an elevation drop of 255 meters (836 feet). The course starts at Frognerseteren and ends at Midtstuen, seven subway stops away (approximately a 13-20 min ride). The course itself is free, but the sleds are not. There are two kinds of sleds, wooden and metal, and Alyssa told us that we should rent the metal ones. Apparently when she and her friends had tried renting the wooden ones many of them were broken or falling apart.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures. Because we went late in the evening, my iPhone wasn’t able to do justice to either the course or the magnificent view of the Oslo skyline. Overall, the sledding was incredibly fun and the run took us about 15 minutes from top to bottom, not factoring in the subway ride. A few things to note are:

  1. The course is groomed every evening so it’s best to do the run in the morning. By the time we went, there were a number of snowy mounds that had formed, which depending on the size of the mound meant that you either caught some air on your sled or simply slammed into the mound.
  2. I wouldn’t recommend going on a weekend since I’ve been told that it’s absolutely packed.
  3. Lastly, there is only one restaurant at the subway stop, so if you intend on eating be prepared to either eat at the restaurant or to bring your own food.