Norway’s traditional ski season is just around the corner, and thousands of eager skiers have already been warming up on roads all over the country. These are the folks who just can’t wait for the snow to fall.
Never before have so many Norwegians taken to rollerskiing. Sales have skyrocketed, special competitions have been held and the local ski association Skiforeningen offered courses in rollerskiing techniques for the first time this fall. They were all fully booked.
“Rollerskiing is a natural extension of Skiforeningen’s activities,” Mette Habberstad of the association told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) earlier this autumn.
Habberstad attributes the sudden popularity of rollerskiing to an upswing in cross-country skiing itself and a desire by many Norwegians to improve their technique, even though they allegedly were “born with skis.” Skiforeningen’s courses in general have enjoyed increased popularity in recent years.
“And then there are many who just want to be a bit ahead of their neighbours, so to speak,” Habberstad said, adding that many professional skiers have also sung the praises of rollerskiing.
Among them are Thomas Alsgaard, who often rollerskis on the roads near his home in a rural area north of Oslo. The former Olympic skier and medal winner told newspaper Aftenposten that rollerskiing provides a form of “conditioning and strength-building” in one. He claims “absolutely everyone” can go rollerskiing.
It’s not easy, though. Beginners need to learn quickly how to brake, rollerskiers stand higher than those on conventional skis, and balancing can be tricky.
“It can be a bit difficult in the beginning,” allowed Alsgaard, “but most get the hang of it pretty quickly.”
He also advises rollerskiing on roads with little traffic, while many rollerskiers prefer paved pedestrian and bike paths. A new track especially for rollerskiers will open in connection with the new Nordic sports complex at Holmenkollen, with a five-kilometer run ready from next autumn.
An annual rollerskiing competition is also now held in the valley northwest of downtown Oslo called Sørkedalen. It was initially arranged by the founder of United Bakeries, Remi Goulignac, and attracted 117 participants last year. This year, reports DN, Skiforeningen took over responsibility for the event, with room for 300 rollerskiers vying to be the fastest on a 9.5-kilometer run.