Saturday, February 17, 2007


Report: Nordic Walking News, Cross Country Skiing Holiday to Norway

Well, our cross-country ski trip to Norway is behind us and what a fabulous time we had.

After a two hour coach trip from Norway's capital city (Oslo) on Sunday 4th February, we arrived in the winter wonderland of Sjusjoen. We were in time for Dinner, a hearty affair, which also gave us the opportunity to start to get to know one another.

On Monday we were up bright and early and we could be found in the ski room learning the art of 'ski waxing'. After applying the ski wax with a liberal dose of 'elbow grease', we set out for the 'meadow' to the rear of our hotel for our initiation.

Our instructor Pete Gurney soon had us on our skis participating in a variety of exercises to become better aquainted with the narrow planks of wood that were now attached to our feet. I never expected to be attempting to move around on my ski's playing 'frisbee' - but it was just one of Pete's amusing ways to loosen us all up and become more confident on our skis.

We were soon in the mechanically prepared parallel tracks that you actually ski. In no time we were gliding along (ok stuttering along!) with our poles used frequently to prevent us from falling over! We made good progress and I was surprised at how much we had achieved by the end of the first day.

As an aside to the skiing, after we had finished for the day, two of our group members (Maggie and Sue) joined me to head for the local shop (about a 20 minute trek through the snow) - No problem you would have thought. Only thing was it was getting dark and on the way back we got lost. 2 hours later we made it back to the hotel - Don't ask!

On day two (Tuesday) we reviewed and practised what we had learned on day 1 and we were also introduced to the downhill slope where we learned how to slow down and turn whilst going downhill via the 'snow plough'. I soon got into this as what I had learned on a downhill skiing holiday 25 years ago, began to come back to me.

On day 3 we set out on an 8Km trip around the nearby frozen lake and into the surrounding hills and back. This gave us the opportunity to put into practice what we had already learned and things really started to come together. Throughout the week everywhere we went, the snow covered views were breathtaking!

Day 4 arrived and I was missing on parade! A flare up of an old running related back / hip injury confined me to the hotel. Rest was the only course of action together with some 'magic' ointment that Sue gave me to apply to the afflicted area. The group went out on a 10Km ski and came back very enthused.

Our evenings were very laid back affairs. Non of the wild party atmosphere more associated with downhill skiing. A typical evening comprised an 'apres ski' swim / sauna, followed by a hearty dinner (the hotel knew exactly what to provide for hungry skiers - The food was very good). On several evenings we had a drinks party for our group, which proved to be very popular.

Generally people were tired and heading up to their rooms by about 9pm each evening. By mid week I was going to bed at about 9.30 in the evening! This is unheard of - Normally I go to bed at 1 O'clock, 2 O'clock, 3 O'clock in the morning!

Day 5 and I was ready to ski again - Sue's magic ointment had worked and my back was fine. We skied for about 14Kms - This was particularly satisfying as our goal was actually to achieve 10 km by the end of the week. We were all improving, by now we were much smoother on our skies. Dare I say it? We were beginning to look like cross country skiers! Ok, every now and then an experienced skier left us for 'snow dust' but I was surprised at how well we were all doing. We fared well against the other skiers who passed us by, who in general must have been many times more experienced than our whole group put together.

I must put in a little mention here about Pete our instructor. Pete is a great personality and also a great instructor. He has been teaching cross country skiing for something like 25 years. What I particularly liked about Pete was that he was constantly adapting to the needs of the groups. He didn't stick to a rigid frame work / schedule, instead he remained flexible. One of our group members, an experienced skier who skied independently each day, commented that from his experience over the years, we were in his opinion very fortunate to have an instructor of Pete's calibre looking after us. So to Pete - Thanks very much, you were terrific!

On our final day we skied 18 kms! A fantastic achievement considering that we were a group of beginners only 5 day earlier! We were skiing with reasonable technique, we were able to ski uphill as well as take on the challenge of long downhill sections too. By the end of the day we were very tired but we all felt a huge sense of achievement.

Whilst at Sjusjoen we also had the opportunity to experience 'snow shoeing'. In fact several of our group commented that they would love to go back to Sjusjoen for a week of Snow Shoeing! It really is a great way to see the winter countryside. Because of the shoes (which you fit your ordinary walking boots into), you are able to go almost anywhere you could go if there was no snow on the ground eg you can walk through deep snow that you wouldn't be able to ski or walk through ordinarily.

A walking holiday in the snow - Now that does sound alot of fun!

One of the local opportunities that Maggie & Sue took advantage of was a bus ride to Lillehammer (one time Winter Olympics venue). They went right up to the top of the Olympic ski jump! Apparently you can stand right at the top where the skiers begin their run. You can also experience what it must feel like to fly down the mighty hill and launch yourself into thin air via the ski jump simulator!

I would just like to finish by saying a big thank you to Stuart & Helen at XCuk Ltd our Tour Opertor ( I could not fault any aspect of this holiday and in fact I heard nothing but praise both for the holiday itself and for the team at XCuk Ltd. People were very impressed by the personal / human touch that they experienced in any dealings with the company.

I would also like to thank Stuart for putting together the 10 week 'Ski Preparation' training program that we published on this website from early December. If you're looking for an ideal training program for cross-country skiing or Nordic Walking (that takes into account your existing fitness level), then I recommend that you check it out...

... If you're looking for a great cross-country skiing holiday, I can thoroughly recommend that you check out - they're a first class company!

OK - That's about all for now. To those of you who were on the holiday, it was great to meet you, you all contributed to making the holiday a resounding success.

Anyone fancy Norway next winter for cross-country skiing or snow shoeing? If so, let me know by emailing:

... and if you haven't checked out all the photos yet, they can be seen at:

Just click on the 'photos' link in the left hand menu / column.

Best Wishes


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