Six ski resorts decide to open

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An ongoing lack of snow continues to frustrate ski resort operators all over Norway. Even with snow-making equipment running at full speed, only six resorts appeared able to open this weekend, compared to 39 at this time last year. The season’s first World Cup event in Norway was moving forward, though, at a new location.

Snowmaking equipment has been running at most ski resorts around Norway, including here at Kongsberg Skisenter, which aimed to be the first to open at 6pm on Friday. PHOTO: Kongsberg Skisenter

Skilift operators had a glimmer of hope earlier this week when temperatures finally fell below the freezing point, meaning they could try making their own snow. It was too late, though, to get a broad base and more mild weather was expected over the weekend.

Kongsberg announced on Friday that it nonetheless aimed to be the first to open in Norway, at 6pm, with one lift running free of charge. Peer Bakke of Kongsberg Skisenter admitted to website skiinfo.no that they couldn’t offer much, only a terrain park area with jumps, “but at least we’re getting underway and that’s important for us.”

As late as Thursday evening it had looked like only the Rauland-Vierli and Strandafjellet resorts felt able to open, reported newspaper Dagsavisen, while operators at Trysil hoped to open a new slope for beginners. They were moving ahead with that plan along with one cross-country trail. Jan Lindstrad, operations manager for Skistar Trysil, told newspaper Dagbladet that he hoped they could open another slope and chairlift next weekend.

At the popular downhill skiing resort of Kvitfjell in Gudbrandsdalen, operators remained uncertain whether they could crank up their lifts. “We’ve produced a lot of snow but depend on a cold day to really be ready,” Eskil Solberg, marketing chief for Kvitfjell Alpinanlegg, told Dagbladet. They decided to go ahead, as did operators at Hafjell and Bjorli.

Marit Foss at Skistar Hemsedal said the resort’s opening was postponed until November 25. Unseasonably warm temperatures at high elevations made it difficult to produce enough snow to open their slopes this weekend, she said.

Even as far north as Narvik, the weather was said to be “very, very warm” recently. Torje Kosmo Karlsen at Narvikfjellet told newspaper VG that the lack of stable, cold weather and snow was delaying their opening until December 20. Some snow was falling in the northernmost areas of Finnmark and Troms counties, but rain and sleet was also in the forecast.

The weather outlook wasn’t good for skiers anxious to hit the downhill slopes and cross-country trails. Winds from the southwest would bring warmer temperatures and possibly even some rain over the weekend, state meteorologist John Smits told Dagsavisen. “Some inland areas and valleys will get freezing temperatures and may see some snow, but we’re not talking about enough to go skiing,” Smits said.

World Cup affected, too
Meanwhile, organizers of the World Cup Nordic season opener in Norway have worked feverishly to produce snow and groom enough tracks to host the event at Sjusjøen, on the mountain plateau above Lillehammer this weekend. The event had to be moved to Sjusjøen from its traditional venue at Beitostølen because of the lack of snow there.

On Saturday, the men would compete in a 15-kilometer classic while the women compete in a 10-kilometer relay. Relays were also planned for Sunday.

Among those taking part were Norway’s skiing stars from last season, including Petter Northug and Marit Bjørgen, along with Martin Johnsrud Sundby. He’s been plagued by worrisome heart problems since the glory days of the Nordic Skiing World Championships (Ski-VM) in Oslo last winter, but has been assured by his doctors that it’s not dangerous to compete. He admitted that he wasn’t in top form but claimed he wasn’t giving up the sport and retained high ambitions.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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