Warmth threatened ski season opener

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Organizers of next weekend’s annual opening of the Norwegian ski season, with various races at Beitostølen in the mountains above Valdres, feared they’d have to cancel the entire event because of the lack of snow. Unusually warm temperatures all over the country have left even high elevations without the snow that was supposed to have fallen by now.

Norway’s national ski federation (Norges Skiforbund) confirmed Thursday night that the season opener would proceed as planned, but on a 3.75-kilometer man-made trail that will be fashioned with snow trucked in from higher elevations at Filefjell.

No winter for awhile
It’s been too warm to produce artificial snow, and state meteorologists couldn’t promise any relief. The forecast for this weekend and most of next week called for mild temperatures and only light rain in some areas.

“It’s doesn’t look like we’re going to get any winter weather for a while,” Beathe Tveita of weather service Storm Geo told news bureau NTB. “We’ll have temperatures well above the freezing point all over the country.” The next two weeks will feature unseasonably warm weather and rain, not snow, Tveita said.

A low-pressure system off Iceland was forecast to move towards southern Norway during the weekend, and then head northwards, producing some rain and brisk winds in the northern counties of Troms and Finnmark. But no snow.

Reindeer herders confused
The climate change is now confusing reindeer herders on the Finnmark plateau (Finnmarksvidda). “We have learned ways of reading how the weather will be tomorrow, or even during the same day when we wake up,” reindeer owner Inga Triumf told NTB. “But now the old methods don’t work.” She said that when she was a child, it could be 30 degrees below zero in October and November. “Now it’s not even freezing,” she said.

Hundreds of her reindeer were tramping over the green vidda this week, as the marking and slaughtering season set in.  She also worried that there’s “too much forest now,” with timberline much higher than it used to be.

Back at Beitostølen in the mountains of southern Norway, even sports commentators were wondering how much effort should be made to arrange a traditional ski season opener on snow, when there is none. Reidar Sollie of newspaper Dagsavisen suggested opting for roller-ski races instead. “Isn’t that the solution?” he wrote on Friday. “Roller-skiing without snow may be peculiarly Norwegian, but it works.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund