Pace of ‘påske’ accidents picks up

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Hard and icy ski trails along with challenging conditions in the mountains of southern Norway left Red Cross workers dealing with a sharp increase in accidents by mid-week, after an otherwise calm start to the country’s traditional Easter skiing holidays called påske. In northern Norway, however, skiing conditions were described as pretty close to perfect.

A lack of fresh snow in the mountains of southeastern Norway has led to difficult conditions and some accidents. This downhill skiing area in Ringebufjellet was forced to close during the Easter holidays. PHOTO: Views and News

The lack of fresh snow in popular skiing areas in the southeast didn’t stop winter sports enthusiasts from heading outdoors anyway. By Wednesday, though, around 100 skiers were halted by injuries in the area around Gol alone.

Red Cross officials warned that a fall on hard, frozen ski trails is like falling on asphalt, and most of the injuries included broken bones and sprained ankles. In some cases, skiers have also been surprised by bare areas in the snow or ice that also have led to falls.

Red Cross workers were called out to accident scenes 14 times on Tuesday afternoon in the mountain area known as Golsfjellet, Nearly 50 rescue missions had been mounted overall by mid-week. Injury reports amounted to 169, compared to 89 at the same time last year.

Among them on Wednesday was a major search and rescue operation to find a 50-year-old man who disappeared during a ski trip at Beiarfjellet, southeast of Bodø. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that bad weather and poor visibility were preventing helicopters from joining in the rescue effort that involved more than 30 workers from the Red Cross, police, civil defense and the military.

Sudden heavy snowfall in some parts of western Norway also caught some skiers by surprise, and disrupted traffic over the mountains. In northern Norway, however, the sun was coming out and the Finnmark plateau (Finnmarksvidda) was covered with fresh snow.

“We have great weather, lots of snow, high spirits and a full house,” Ellen Renman, who has spent the past several winters working at hotels in Finnmark, told newspaper Aftenposten. Easter is a festive season around Kautokeino, for example, with not only winter sports and scenery on offer but also traditional Sami cultural events and youth confirmation ceremonies.

Skiers could report “dreamy” conditions after around 30 centimeters of new, dry snow fell just before the Easter holidays began. The forecast for the rest of the week called for temperatures of between minus-3 and minus-15C, perfect for long-distance treks under sunny skies.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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