No one really associates Norway with skiing. It was once the most popular destination for British skiers. They flocked there in their thousands. Then, for some reason they started to go to the Alps. Maybe it was marketing, maybe it was that fewer airlines serviced it or it could be that the slopes weren’t as challenging. Whatever it was, Norway became forgotten. The country that invented skiing fell off the radar, completely.
Oh well, there loss is everyone else’s gain. The select few who go there (Although that may be about to change with Crystal ski selling Norwegian ski resorts again) will find that they have the run of the town. The slopes aren’t the most challenging (if you’re an expert maybe go elsewhere) but they are empty. Being free from the early morning standstills at the lifts, means that lift rage is a thing of the past.
But what are the resorts? and what are they like?
Well the main resorts are Hemsedal (no not the place from Lord of the Rings), Beitostolen and Geilo. Every Norway resort is rustic and rural. Not so rural that you can’t get bread and milk, though. It just has a back to nature feel. With its wane in popularity it wasn’t hit by the commercial nineties. They are understated like the lesser known North American destinations. Not the fancy and spa filled like the Alps.
So here is what each resort has to offer:
Probably, the biggest and most popular resort in all of Norway. Although, that isn’t saying much. It offers the most challenging slopes. In fact, it is one of the few that offers any alpine action. Albeit limited. For the experts it is probably best to go off-piste. It will definitely make the most of the 810 km vertical. Although make sure you go with an experienced guide as it is prone to avalanches. The family market is also catered for, with a huge ski area. The largest in Norway. In Scandinavia skiing is a community activity, for all the family. Not the type of place mum and dad can slip away for the week, leaving the kids at home.
The best place to go snow rafting in Norway. Flying down a slope in a rubber raft, is definitely something different. Prodding the snow with your oars to try and keep yourself on track takes a bit of getting used to. Beitostolen is family friendly. With one of the shortest transfers in Europe, 40km form Fagernes airport, it only takes a matter of minutes to get to the slope side accommodation. Well, 40 minutes to be exact. This resort is probably the most chilled in a country of chilled resorts. Actually, a country of chilled people.
A cross country skier’s dream. Usually seen as the coward’s way out, it is the sport of Norwegian heroes. Cross country champions are held in high regard by Scandinavians. In Geilo, there is 550 km of prepared tracks. It may be worth spending a day or two on them as the vertical aren’t exceptional. Geilo offers the best activities outside of skiing. Snowshoe treks, dog sledding and assortment of others. The log cabin lined streets really do look like something out of a postcard.
So there are the key resorts in Norway. It is not just the place where Vikings came from. It is also the home of skiing. Well, if not the home at least a place where people are fanatical about it. A place for families. A place with quiet slopes. Not a place for challenging terrain and Après Skis.