The Norwegians’ favourite way of enjoying their unspoiled mountain scenery is by skiing. Winter sports is no international industry branch like it is in Austria or Switzerland, but instead a national sport and one of the most maintained traditions in the Scandinavian country. Europeans are usually impressed by the quality and the amount of snow that falls even in lower regions. The Norwegian ski season normally starts in November and only ends in the middle of May.
There are plenty of ski resorts in Norway, and they are spread all over the country. On their website www.visitnorway.com, the Norwegian Tourism Association put together a list of the top 10 most popular ski resorts.
There is one single mountain that stands out of Trysils’s undulating landscape: Trysilfjell. The 71 km of slopes are operated by 31 lifts and cover three sides, cutting their way through the forests surrounding the mountain. With its three areas with children-friendly downhill runs and lifts, the ski area is ideal for families. The rest of the area offers slopes for skiers on every level, and there are different fun parks for adults and children alike to live it up in. Away from the pistes, Trysil is attractive due to its indoor surf-area, spas, shopping facilities, around 20 restaurants and several bars.
Situated between Oslo and Bergen, Norwegians often call Hemsedal “the Scandinavian Alps”. Even the Norwegian ski celebrity Lasse Kjus and crown prince Haakon together with his Mette-Marit go skiing here. The two ski resorts Hemsedal Skisenter and Solheisen Skisenter offer altogether 52 runs and 24 lifts. Not only is the region regarded as a hot spot for free riders, Norway’s biggest kids’ area can be found here, as well as different parks to choose from for freestylers. Especially on weekends there’s a lot going on in the bars when the party people from Oslo come to visit.
During the 1994 Winter Olympics the competitions in slalom and giant slalom took place 15 km from Lillehammer. In the Hafjell area there are 35 km of pistes and 14 lifts. Lasse Kjus operates a ski school here, and one of the greatest highlights is Hunderfossen Winter Park. The fairy tale world comprises an ice hotel, ice cathedral, a cave restaurant and gives plenty of opportunities to enjoy the snow. You can go snow rafting, ice bowling or take a tour on the snow scooter all day until the park closes at sundown.
Geilo, being the country’s oldest ski resort (since 1909), not only offers 39 slopes, but is even more famous as a destination for kite skiing. Hangastøl presents an approximately 9,000 km² large area with best wind conditions and has been a venue for winter sports events like World Championships and World Cups. Geilo’s snow parks have also hosted big events. In the evening, winter sports fans can eat out at the famous TV-chef Frode Aga’s restaurant “Hallingstuene”.
Oslo Winter Park Tryvann
With 18 slopes and 7 lifts, this ski resort is only 20 minutes away from the city centre of Norway’s capital Oslo. The Varingskollen Park, one of the biggest fun parks in Norway, stretches over an area with 5 slopes and a chairlift. Apart from jumps and obstacles you can find 2 half-pipes with a length of 120 and 170 m.
Norefjell was the venue for Alpine skiing competitions during the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo. With up to 1,000 m altitude difference – the biggest in Scandinavia – the area is the largest mountainous region nearby the capital. At 6.5 km, Norway’s longest connected slope can also be found among the altogether 125 km pistes in Norefjell.
There are 4 mountains in the ski resort located 130 km away from Trondheim, and all 4 of them have slopes on the sunny side. Marc Girardelli, a former ski racer from Austria, found the “world’s best giant slalom slope” here. Freeriders will also find great runs in this area.
Hovden, located in southern Norway, is popular for its great snow conditions. Freeriders can find beautiful runs that partly go through forests, and freestyle skiers can enjoy the 1,250 m long fun park. The service building in resort provides everything at once: café, bistro, ski school, ski rental and après ski bar.
Built for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Kvitfjell is a modern ski resort. It offers idyllic blue pistes, as well as the steep Olympic run “Black Diamond” with a 64 % decline. The ski area already opens in the second half of October, marking the resort to be one of the firsts to start the season in Norway.
The Kongsberg ski resort may be small, but being only a one-hours’ drive away from Oslo, it’s still very popular. Apart from about 10 km slopes, it also offers a fun park with half-pipe and quarter pipes, as well as a slalom-run that’s suitable for races.
Most tourists are drawn to Lillehammer. Here you can find both: a bigger city and as much as 5 ski resorts (Skeikampen, Kvitfjell, Hatfjell, Gålå and Sjusjøen) practically right at your doorstep. Norway is popular among freeriders for its excellent freeride and ski touring opportunities, for example at Sognefjord, Voss, the Sumør Alps, at Hardangervidda or in Jontunheimen.
Looking at this variety it’s not much of a surprise that Norway is always one of the top nations in the Winter Olympics. No wonder, at these kind of conditions …
by Alina Dorn