At the beginning of February our class went to Syrtveit for a week to learn how to ski. We had this basic ski course in a northern town because of the weather conditions. The environment and weather conditions are totally suitable for skiing there. It is a huge area covered by snow but which is more important – deep snow. It doesn’t melt easily because of the cold and freeze. It is also important in this area to be hilly and mountainous. There are both flat and steep areas which can be easy to learn how to ski for beginners as well. Personally I am a beginner so I really appreciated less steep slopes and downhill and I was looking for them all the time.
On the first day our class was separated and we started to work in two groups. My group’s leader was Tim who is one of the local guides there. In my group we were 12 of us so it must have been a big pressure on our leader. From the beginning he was responsible for us and he was guarding our safety. He explained how to ski in different ways and it was taking a long time so he is a really patient leader. I think patience is one of the most important qualities which a good leader has. He was always supportive from my first try to my last try.
Tim taught us how to ski step by step. Firstly, we had to find our balance. I was standing in my boots and trying to distribute the pressure from my shin to calf. Tim taught me that most of my weight should be felt between the heel and the arch of the foot. He was explaining all the time and it really facilitated learning about skiing. After balance we had to discover how to walk by sliding one ski ahead of the other. After that we also discovered how to run straight and slide down from a hill. To be honest, it was my first time ever so I was really afraid of falls and injuries. However, as I wrote we had a really patient leader so my fear was not a problem. Tim was trying to help us with our difficulties and he always warned us when something was wrong.
We didn’t have to worry about to organize the days out because we got a detailed program of the planned basic ski course. It was the full schedule of the week. We had both practical and theoretical activities during the ski course. Both groups started the days with practical instruction which was about local skiing, cross country skiing, downhill and different ski techniques. In the evening we had lectures about important issues related skiing. We learnt about ski waxing and other preparation for skiing. We were also informed about the cold weather and accidental injuries which required to have a personal first aid kit. At the end of the day we got information about the following day which included the starting time and daily plan. I think this week was supposed to be well-scheduled and it finally made us well-prepared.
All students are different and have difficulties in different areas. The leader must have focused on each student on the trips. Tim was responsible for everybody in the group which is a really important role. He wanted to make sure that we pay attention only to him. Everybody had to listen to him, watch him or take notice of him in case. Sometimes he asked us cognitive questions because he was curious about our idea and thought. He really needed our real feedback about the new information and his instruction as well. Most of the time Tim was skiing in front and was leading the group but he looked back a lot and checked everybody all the time. Sometimes he went back and stayed behind to observe the students. After a time, the talented students were skiing behind and checked and helped lagging members. In this system I felt we are not only a group but a good team.
I suppose we had a successful week because we were informed about special stuff. We had a serious requirement for clothes and equipment. Firstly, I have learnt about suitable clothes for skiing. In my opinion the most important thing is to stay warm and dry. Skiing is a really intensive and tiring winter activity so you always have to count on sweat. You can make it comfortable with some extra clothes which are surely dry. You have to think about an extra jacket and you can change during the lunch time. Extra pair of gloves and socks are also important to bring to the trips. Regarding to material wool is the best insulation of all. Secondly, we have also learnt about special equipment which are really necessary for skiing. First of all, you need a daysack what you can put your stuff into. The most important equipment are ski waxes, first aid kit, shovel and goggles. In addition, you need foods, snacks and hot drink for a day. For safety you have to keep all the stuff inside your backpack.
On the trips we had some possibilities to play different games. Organized play was as important as free play. At the beginning of the week first games were organized by the leader and he told us about the rules and instructions. He taught us some competitive games on ski which needed to be really fast and skillful. This competition helped us to learn how to balance on ski during walking and running as well. The members of the losing team had to do some squats and push up. This activity helped us to stay warm in the cold weather. We also organized a competitive game which was similar. However, we had to use the Telemark ski technique in this game. One fall led to another but this play was so much fun. Sometimes we had free time for playing and practicing so we could have been creative during skiing. It was difficult for me to ski without instructions but after a while I started to feel good. The others motivated me and I could have kept going on.
Personally I really needed motivation for completing the trips because I had a lot of difficulties with skiing. Initially I was thinking about exploring new things which I have never had possibilities for before. It was my first time on ski so it gave me a big motivation. I also was excited because I knew I can discover new places and areas on ski and I really liked this challenge. We had a map and got an instruction that we had to get to a given point. It was a big challenge as well. Reaching the given point made us feel amazing. I was proud of myself on the top all the time. Another big motivation was taking photos of mountains with their wonderful view. The view from each top was amazingly beautiful which I have never seen before. I was so happy to see that and make a memory about that. I was thinking of my family and friends and I wanted them to be there with me. Probably they gave me the biggest motivation ever. My favorite part of the trips was downhill skiing. I think sliding down and feeling the gravity is the most amazing part of skiing. I was full of adrenalin during downhill and I was so upset when it was all over.
Downhill was indeed awesome but there are more movements and activities which I learnt on the course. First of all, we always started with warm-up. At the beginning of the day we did some gymnastics exercises which helped us to prepare for activities and avoid injuries. The warm-up was held on a flat area without skis. The main activity was cross-country skiing during the week. I didn’t know anything about that before and I just thought this sport can be really easy. However, it’s not. It requires willpower, courage, endurance and strength as well. Most of the time we had to move across snow-covered terrains up and down. Mounds, hills and mountains were our friends on the trips. Sometimes we had to move across lakes and also rivers and it made the trips extremely exciting. So we could have crossed everything in the nature with skis. After difficult environmental conditions it was easy to follow the track.
As I wrote we really needed good motor skills to complete the trips. There are three main motor skills which I have to mention: speed, strength and endurance. Endurance is self-evident. Though trips were daily trips, all of them was long and exhausting. Strength is also important in cross-country skiing. To resist gravity needs a lot of energy and also needs big power. All of our muscles were working during skiing and it was so hard work. As I experienced speed is not so important in cross-country skiing. We can wait for each other all the time and being in hurry is not necessary. Fast and hasty movements can be really dangerous on steep slopes.
However, we learnt about different kinds of risks and dangers. Muscle strains, sprains, bruises and other injuries were mentioned in the evening and we were talking about how to treat them. The most important treatment for them is PRICE which is short for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. It is used for the first several days after an injury. We were also informed about avalanche danger. Wintertime is when most avalanches tend to happen. There are many factors which can affect an avalanche. We learnt how to use an avalanche radar and tried to find a hidden stuff with that in the forest. Our leader was talking about different instructions which can be really useful for skiing. He taught me that there are three important words related skiing. These are press, edge and turn. I always have to use at least one of them when I practice several ski techniques.
Last, but not least I can compare Norwegian skiing possibilities to my home country Hungary. Personally I didn’t bring any skiing skills and experiences from Hungary because I have never gone to ski there. However, getting some experiences here helped me to understand why it is important to have good environmental conditions for skiing. This country is full of hills and mountains which matters a lot. Hungary is mainly a flat country and we have only a few suitable areas for skiing. I have to say that weather conditions are also definitely better here in Norway. Persistent cold doesn’t let the snow to melt here and it is missing in my country. In summary I would call Norway the country of skiing because of the perfect conditions.
I would have never thought that I can learn how to ski. This sport was just a dangerous winter activity on the television which I have always watched on sport channels before. Now this sport means to me more. I have had more information about that and I have been more excited about winter sports since I tried skiing. I am aware of my low skiing skills but I am planning to practice and improve myself. The ski course helped me to learn a lot of basic things and information about skiing. It is also nice to get an opportunity to try both cross-country skiing and downhill skiing. I think this course helped us to get closer to each other and get to know each other in a different way. We could have learnt how to be flexible and adapt when there are some changes in circumstances. Life is a range of unexpected events so we can become better people with sports – with skiing.