From Monday 8th till Friday 12th of February we went to TrollAktive Centre in Syrtveit, close to Evje for our basic ski course. The area is surrounded by hills and forests and on the other side of the road is a big river – a perfect place for outdoor activities! The TrollAktive Centre itself includes one main building, a smaller building with a little fire place asides, where we had our evening lectures and many smaller cabins to live in.The area includes also a dry room for our skies and other gear. I shared a cabin with Elena, Toni, Roman and Nico. The cabin was build in “tiny” style and was well provided. The girls slept in one room and the boys had the gallery for themselves. I was surprised about the way the cabin was arranged because this was more a house than a cabin for me. The cabin was very cozy, we cooked lots of good food and enjoyed our stay a lot.
For our practical course we went up to Hogas, an area with many kilometers of prepared skiing tracks starting from 1,5 km loops up to longer 20 or 30 km routs. But Hogas is also nice for off-slope skiing, as there are many flat parts, including frozen lakes, to practice on basic cross country skiing skills, as well as little mountains we could ski up to.In the beginning of our skiing course we were divided into two groups with 12 people each. I was in Tim´s group. The weekdays were all structured pretty much the same: we left at around 9.30 and came back at around 4 o’clock. In the evening lectures we learned a lot about waxing, how to pack a daypack, injuries and first aid. We also had a spontaneous lesson about compass and cards before we started our day tour.
On our first day we went up to Hogas and used a small area with skiing tracks and little hills. We started with basic things such as how to put on your skies, how to move, how to turn and how to stand on the skies.
I have never been on cross country skies before. So I felt quite unstable and weird but very comfortable with the boots because they are only fixed to the skies in the front and are rather like normal walking boots. Compared to downhill skies I felt more comfortable on these kind of skies. They are also a bit longer and a lot thinner than downhill skies. Tim explained and showed us everything step by step and gave us enough time to try out the different things. First we learned different ways to turn: you can either turn by first turning one leg 180° and than the other leg or you can jump around 90°, 180° or even 360°. This “playing time” gave us enough time to get a feeling for the skies. I noticed that our group is quiet good in these exercises and learned very quick. In a next step we tried to move on our skies. Tim was the first in the line and made a track. First we tried to walk and after that we tried to slide on our skies. Between the different tasks we needed to wax our skies because we had less grip. After that we practiced in a circle and Tim was watching us and gave feedback for each. He learned our names really quick! For the next step we went to a little hill on the slope. Tim explained and demonstrated two techniques for going uphill: sidewards and the herringbones. I prefer the herringbones technique but in some cases the sideward steps are more useful. On top of the hill we learned different downhill techniques and how to slow down and control your own speed. First we went down the hill with one ski in the track and the other ski out of the track in the plow position to slow down. Than we practiced the plow on the slope and afterwards we learned how to ski in the telemark position. This position is necessary to be stable and to keep the balance on the skies. It was very helpful that Tim gave us constructive feedback because due to that I learned very quick and got a good and stable feeling on the skies.
After this technique session we had time to play and to try out all the different things we have learned. I realized that the telemark position is very helpful while downhill skiing because of the shape of the skies. At the end Tim and Len organized a relay between the two groups where we had to ski as fast as we can. That was so much fun! (our group won – for sure;)
In the evening we had very interesting lecture about cross country skies in general and waxing in detail. Waxing downhill skies is necessary to slide better but waxing cross country skies has the oppositional effect because you put on wax to get more grip – especially for going uphill.
I have also learned that the curves of cross country skies are necessary to have more contact while standing on one ski (when you walking up) and to have less contact while standing on both skies (when you going downhill). This is also the reason why you usually put the wax just on the middle part of the skies. There are different types of wax for different temperatures because the shape and hardness of snow crystals varies. The colder the snow, the harder the crystals are and the harder wax has to break those crystals. Tim suggested to put on a green layer on the whole ski and two thin layers of the blue wax for the middle part of the ski if the weather is rather colder. I tried it out and realized that my layers where too thin, so I put on thicker layers the next days and it worked pretty good. (Waxing could be quiet exhausting!;))
On Tuesday we went up to Hogas again. In the morning we practiced different techniques of cross country skiing.We skied across a big lake and had our technique lesson on the lake – that was crazy!
The group stood in a line and Tim in front of the group. So he could demonstrate and explain the different tasks very easily while everyone could see and hear him. Each of us made their own track where we could practice. We started the tasks in a tandem so Tim could see everyones technique and was able to give individual feedback. I enjoyed this lesson a lot because I realized the advantages and disadvantages of the different techniques, for example skiing with or without skies. I also noticed the importance of sliding on the skies, it saves lots of energy and it´s easier to move forward.
Furthermore Tim told us how to behave when walking over ice: you should always follow the track of leader and never gather all together on one spot. As a veileader Tim went in front, so if for example the ice breaks or there is something underneath the snow he would be the person so struggle with and could warn the other of the group. But he also made the track by going in the front. As our veileader and instructor he was the person with most experience and he knew the area the best, so he knew where to ski and how and where to go up the hills.d
After lunch we went on a off-slope tour. We skied across lakes, hills and through forests. I really enjoyed this tour! Especially the views and being in the sun and fresh air and in-between this beautiful untouched snow. For one time Tim was struggling because we went up on a hill and the track was quit difficult for beginners. One girl of our group struggled a lot and can’t follow the group. The others of the group tried to help her. After a several time of waiting on the hill, Tim decided to turn around and take another way. So the whole group walked all the way down. Such an situation shows me that a veileader has to be flexible and take care of all group members, no matter if they are good skiers or not. In this case the whole group followed the weakest person to stay together. I liked the way of Tim´s behavior as a veileader in this difficult situation. At the end of the off-slope tour we had some play time on a little hill to practice our downhill techniques, especially the telemark traverse. We also tried out a few skijumps above small bumps. This was lots of fun! Each of was cheering, laughing and enjoying the time. I tried really hard to land in the telemark position after the jump, but i fell over looooots of times…
In the evenings we had lectures about first aid and how to pack a daypack. Typical injuries in cold weather are frost nibs or frost bites, hypothermia or dehydration. But also twists, cuts, breaks or hyperthermia (if you wear too many layers) happen. I noticed the importance of always having a first aid kit with you and knowing exactly what you have in there and what to use it for. It might even be helpful to mark things, so you know what they are for in case of an emergency. I didn’t know a lot about hypothermia before, so it was really interesting to talk about it in the lecture, as I think this is one of the things that can happen quite easily in cold weather conditions. I learned what some of the sign could be for a person having hypothermia, such as not talking anymore, making strange things, shivering and then stop shivering or slowing down. But it’s also important to know that there is no specific pattern, it can be different with every person. I was surprised that you should stop at least as long as it took this person to turn bad, e.g. 5 or 6 hours. The main thing I learned in the equipment lecture is that your day pack should be able to let you survive for one night. So you should bring a form of shelter (emergency (group) shelter, bivi-bag etc.), a mat, some extra food and water, a shovel and a warm jacket. As a veileader it is recommended to bring an emergency group shelter and extra first aid material.
On Wednesday we went on a day tour which was not on the projected timetable. Len and Tim decided to change it because of the good weather conditions. It was sunny, no clouds at all and the temperature was around -10° in the morning to -5° in midday. Due to that we had a quick and spontaneous lesson about compass and cards in the morning before we left. We learned how to read a map and how to orientated with a map. The idea was to use this skills on the tour. The tour was around 7km and we skied partly on the slope and partly off-slope. I really enjoyed the landscapes and differences of the route like uphill, downhill, slope, off-slope. At some parts of the tour we stopped and Tim asked us where on the map we are, so I improved myself in orienteering skills. I experienced that it is a lot harder to orienteer in the cold and if there is lots of snow because then many features disappear. Lakes, mountain, power lines or tracks could be very helpful in this case.
I learned a lot of myself this day. Already at the beginning of the tour I struggled a lot with my skies and my body. I had less concentration, balance and I didn’t feel comfortable on the skies. Due to that I fell over many times and my frustration level got lower and lower.
At the end of the route we practiced the telemark techniques on a quit strange hill. I have not managed anything at all. Probably because of my frustration. At home I realized that I am too hard to myself sometimes and it is okay having a bad day. I carried out for the future days not to forget how great it is to be able to experience this program, to be thankful, have fun and to enjoy this incredible nature! In the evening we went to the skijump area in Syrtveit. Nico und Roman wanted to try skijumping and so the whole group joined them. First they jumped from a 10m jump. They inspired many others of the group, so almost the whole group tried ski-jumping! That was so great! I didn’t want to do that because I fell quit uncomfortable on my skies this day and I wasn’t in a good mood. Roman and Nico were very brave and did the 20m jump!! Luckily nothing happened…But I think this was a great experience for them and they could be very proud of themselves. A great end of a day full of struggles. 🙂
Thursday was one of my favorite days because I felt quite fresh and comfortable and the tour we skied was awesome. We went to an area between Evje and Hogas and walked through typical Norwegian landscapes like untouched snow, sweet and cozy huts in the middle of nowhere and endless nature. The tour Tim choose was a mixture between slope and off-slope parts, so we could practice our uphill and downhill techniques in both conditions. We skied up on a mountain called Bertesknapen. This time Tim went last and one of the group had to lead. Elena and Toni were the two new leaders and did their job very well. Tim showed us how to go up in Zic-Zac once the terrain gets step and is wide enough so you don’t have to do the herringbones. This day I realized how good our group is working. There is always a good, high motivated and happy atmosphere. Sometimes the group split into the two groups – the better skier and the weaker skier. Sometimes the faster group had long waiting times in the cold until the slower people came. But it seems to be a matter of course for everyone. I really appreciated that.
In the evening we all met together in our lecture room and had an enjoyable and fun evening. Every nation presented a typical dance, show or game for their country. I learned a really good dance from Idaho and Netherlands. I also enjoyed the german game “Herzblatt”. We had lots of fun and laughed a lot while playing the game and practiced the dances. I think we had a good group cohesion. I get along with everyone very well despite the different groups who developed within the group. I think this small groups developed while quarantine and due to the apartments groups. But we all come together more and more, especially while this week.
The last day was quite fun! We went to the same area we have been the day before. We spent the first two hours on one hill and Tim demonstrated and explained us how to turn and use the edges while downhill. We also practiced the telemark position again and again. I noticed that a few of our group improved very quick, not just the good skiers, also the ones how have never been on skies before this week. I began struggling again, fell over lots of times but I tried really hard. But my motto: practice creates masters! After the practice lesson both groups built a big playground or funpark on the area we had practiced before. Tim told us that this kind of learning and experience is common in schools or kindergardens to learn how to built jumpings, bumps, etc., to be outside in the snow and experience different movements. We did three stations with different tasks and were divided in three groups. For the first time both groups (Tim and Len) were mixed. So I had lots of fun with other people I have never seen on the skies before. Building a funpark (during 30min)was a great experience for me and I really want to take this message of having fun in the nature and experience back to Germany.
Altogether I didn’t only learn how to ski on cross country skies in this week, but also what to put in a first aid kit, how to wax skies, how to pack a daypack and to deal with myself in weak situations. It was good mixture of technique, exploring the area on ski tours, playing around and theory.