Home of Skiing
Norway is also the country of winter sports with some 20,000 kilometres of pistes, skiable from November to May, and just as many quaint timber chalets dotting the landscape. Picturesque and perhaps the ultimate ski destination? Without a doubt, especially since the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, which blessed the region with a host of high-performance facilities.
And just for the record – and a significant one at that - in 1888, when Norwegian explorer Fidtjof Nansen crossed the Greenland interior with a team of 40, skiing as a mode transport won global recognition.
The first ski techniques were effectively Norwegian-born with the “telemark” skis originating as far back as the 1870s. Their name derives from a northern province of the country, and the principal consists of “genuflecting”, downhill skiing, where the boot is only attached at the toe, allowing the skier to go into a lunge position in order to turn, holding long ski poles in each hand.
Replaced by other alpine techniques in the early 20th century, telemark skiing saw a revival on the winter sporting scene in the 80s, with World Cup racing and World Championships held every other year (jump, slalom and cross-country). Norwegian skiers Eirik Rykhus and Bjorge Sovik continue to be leading lights on the scene, along with skiers from Switzerland, Germany and France. Frenchman Philippe Lau took the gold in the sprint in 2011.
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