Bambi Goes Skiing
I’ve recently returned from my fantastic Christmas vacation in Norway; already I miss the heavy rain and the snow, so I’ve elected to reminisce. Both this Christmas and the year before I was told there wouldn’t be any snow, at least none that you could play in (in Bergen), but they were wrong. Only for a couple days before I had to leave, but I definitely got the pictures to prove it. Before we got snow on the west coast I was feeling impatient. Got that snow itch, bitten by a snow bug, infected with snow pox… ok, I’ll stop. The point is that I really wanted to go up to the snow, and about a month earlier when my cousin, Jostein, asked me what I wanted for Christmas I replied, “I want to go snowboarding”. He said, ”that can be arranged”, but after we arrived in late December he was worried because the conditions were not very good. After Christmas, though, it got better and we planned the ski day (since no one knew/liked to snowboard, so I’d have no one to teach me). As it was my first time ever Jostein and his two friends teamed up and it became a running joke that three amateurs make one professional. Even though I fell on my ass a shit-ton and even on my face twice and back a few times (giving me a headache for a bit and whiplash), it was worth it. What a great day.
We arrived at the mountain resort around 09:00 which doesn’t sound bad until you realize that meant we had to wake up before 06:00 because Jostein and I drove to one of his friends apartments, transfer his ski equipment to the other car, pick up the other friend and then drove in-between an hour and a half to two hours to get to the resort Myrkdalen Fjellandsby in Vossestrand. I slept for maybe three-quarters of the trip, but it was difficult to get comfortable. But once we made it to the snow and the ice covered lakes I didn’t need sleep, that’s when sleep became for the weak, by then I was just scrambling around the back seat attempting to get a good picture. But… I didn’t get any until after we stopped at a gas station mart to get some juice and nuts as a snack. Jostein and I switched seats and on the last leg of the trip up I took a couple pictures out the window.
We finally made it; I had to wait in the bitter cold in my three layers of pants (jeggings, sweats, and the neon pink snow pants I borrowed from my 14-year-old cousins’ friend – that ended up a bit big on me), three layers of shirts (one tank, and two thick long sleeves) underneath a fake military jacket, thermal vest, and my thick Norwegian jacket. I also had a face bandana thing underneath the cushy black scarf that I got for Christmas last year along with the black beanie that donned my head and the gloves on my hands. Just standing, waiting for the guys to get some of their gear on, it wasn’t enough! Needed more layers. We walked to the rental place, I got the right gear and the full day pass (which lasted until 3:30), and we headed to the bunny slope.
I was like Bambi on the ice, barely being able to stand, and even less to move my legs without either crossing the skis or simply toppling over when I leaned over too far. I had my cousin and his friends supporting me, sometimes literally, helping me up (before I could get up by myself) and pushing or pulling me up the hill. There were even times before I could make myself stop quick enough and ran right into my cousin’s friend Pål. Hey, I was going fast and he was in the way… at the bottom of the “hill”. After that, we went to the lift to the main stop of the hill.
I was so excited and took a bunch of pictures, including a group selfie.
Luckily getting off the chairlift wasn’t so difficult, but moving to the side was. The first time I fell after crossing the front of my skis. I stood up, went extremely slowly down the hill, just thinking of South Park ‘pizza, French fry…’ really only doing pizza working hard to not cross in the front. After going down the steeper hill right in front of my cousin, like a little kid. Speaking of kids, I wasn’t surprised, but geez kids really start skiing once they start walking, or even standing. Looking around there were babies on tiny little skis and even kids less than 8 years old flying down the mountain, at least compared to me. That’s the culture there, Norway, basically an entire country of mountaineers. Whenever they can get outside, light rain, snow, or shine, you’ll see people walking, bike riding, hiking, skiing, kayaking, anything. And yes, when it snowed over an inch, there was still people riding bicycles up and down the hills. Extreme people; must be left over genes from the Vikings.
Getting back to the reminiscing; I continued going slowly down, working on turning, and failing several times and falling on my ass. Slowly but surely I started to get the hang of it. Making wide turns back and forth, using pretty much the whole track to keep myself going a bit slower without having to do ‘pizza’ constantly, it’s more tiring on my legs and a harder position to get out of. By the time I finished my first run I must have fallen a million times, but it had only been maybe 20 minutes. We got on the chair lift and completed the run again and again and again. The day before my aunt told me that I shouldn’t bother getting a full day pass since I probably won’t even go down more than twice, that I’d get too tired. Psh, showed her, we went down like eight of nine times. We all even took the T-pole lifts up to the top of the higher mountain, the red pole runs. While I did fall several times and even got my left ski caught in a boundary fence that kept people from going off a little cliff into a river. Jostein had to come back to help me out, and then pulled me the rest of the way up the hill (it was a speed dip, where you had to go around a corner fast to have enough speed to make it all the way back up the other side. In total, we made that part of the run three or four times, and the only time I didn’t fall was the last… that time I fell after making it up the hill while attempting to stop.
Every time I made a run, I got notably faster, which led to more interesting and intense falls. One was totally not my fault, I was close to the top, going down the first slope and then I felt hands on my waist and shoulder. I wasn’t really sure what was going on, but I at least thought that I was someone I knew. Nope. After I was knocked over I looked back and it was some random snowboarder. We were both completely fine so we just laughed it off and kept going down the hill. One of my favorite falls was just hilarious; I was skiing quickly down the hill, probably normal speed from other people’s perspectives, and I needed to turn to the right to avoid going out of bounds. In that particular area the snow got steeper in different, random places, and that’s where my right ski went lower than my other, which was turning, causing them to cross. This caused a mess with physics and to right it again, caused me to flip over, one of the skis popped off and after landing on my back randomly turned so I was going down the hill backwards and continued sliding. It didn’t hurt and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing as the guys came down to see if I was ok.
As the day continued I was glad that I hadn’t worn more layers because skiing was an excellent workout and I was hot, we took a short “lunch” break, when I ate the trail mix I bought at the gas station and drank the overpriced coffee from the resort café. While we sat in the covered outside dining area it started to snow. While this was a beautiful site, even with the thick grey cloud cover overhead, it did make conditions of the mountain worse. The snow got slicker and harder, while this is great for speed, not to great on a steep red ranked hill. Also the helmet I rented seemed a bit too large, or just came too far down in the front which made wearing the pink tinted goggles I borrowed extremely uncomfortable and annoying to wear. And because the tint seemed too strong to me and I couldn’t differentiate between the mountain and the sky or the dips in the snow itself. After a short time, I just gave up on wearing them, but not before my first face plant when the corner of the goggles gave me a bruise over my right eye. By the end of the day, because of the snowflakes (that you could actually see the designs <3) flying into my face, I wanted to try again with the goggles but I could not see anything by that point, to much snow had made its way inside. So I gave up on them again, sucky goggles.
To get up to the very tops all the times after our lunch break I wanted to take the T-pole lift alone, just to say I could. It took me three tries to make it up without falling, and each time I lost it, we had to walk off the track, through ridiculous soft and thick snow to get back to the trail. It was a point of pride that I had to get up the mountain with the pole on my own. So I did. After lunch, I was too proud so I didn’t share a T-pole again.
Our runs continued until the last possible time, after 3, because after our final run down the lift was closed for the day. And then we went back to the rental area across the icy street leading to a parking lot. There was a very steep little hill before the street so to get down controllably I turned slightly to the side and made my way forward, then diagonally backward, then forward, then backward, and then forward again. I was so terrible, in the way of a few strangers. Almost hit one of them. I bring shame on myself.
The day was done, the sun had set, and it was time for the drive home. We all peeled off the layers and sat comfortably in the slightly smelly car. My hair was messy so I redonned my beanie, the perfect cold/bad hair day hat. But not before taking more pictures, including another selfie.