Ski resorts able to open early

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Lots of fresh snow in the mountains was allowing several of Norway’s major ski resorts to open early for the slalom season this weekend. Some have started cranking up their ski lifts already and hope temperatures stay cold.

The ski season is starting early in the Norwegian mountains this year, including here at Hemsedal. PHOTO: Hemsedal/SkiStar

“This is one of the earliest openings in history,” Trond Østby of the popular winter sports center at Hemsedal told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday. “Now we’re looking forward to six months of skiing.”

And snowboarding, and cross-country trekking, as Norwegians pull their winter sports gear out of closets and cupboards following the past few weeks of chilly days and even colder nights. Hemsedal opened its first slopes on Thursday, with its main ski lifts both due to be operating by Saturday.

“During the course of the weekend we’ll have three lifts and 650 meters of elevation open,” Østby said. Not only has around a half-meter of fresh snow fallen at Hemsedal, he said crews have been running the snow-making machines as well. A few cross-country trails have been groomed, too.

Crews have been grooming slopes at Trysil, in eastern Norway, too. PHOTO: SkiStar Trysil

Slalom centers at Trysil, Kvitfjell and Geilo were also among those opening this weekend, with Trysil in eastern Norway ready to run its six-seater express ski lift and a children’s lift. Three kilometers of trails were also being prepared.

“We’re planning to be ready for the snowboarders also,” Jan Lyngstad of Trysil told Aftenposten. He said the area has benefited from cold temperatures, could look forward to more sub-zero weather in the days ahead, and expected more than 1,000 eager skiers to turn up for the early opening weekend.

Kvitfjell in Gudbrandsdalen, best known as the site of the men’s downhill during the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, was opening on Friday and promoting 20 centimeters of new snow, lots of machine-made snow and “optimal” conditions. “We also have some cross-country trails ready into the mountains,” said Eskil Solberg, marketing director at Kvitfjell.

Geilo Ski Center in Buskerud opened on Thursday and also was reporting remarkably good skiing conditions for so early in the season.

A brief spate of snow in the hills around Oslo prompted some of the most enthusiastic cross-country skiers to venture out on some trails earlier this week, but the snow has pretty much melted away following the past two days of rain and warmer temperatures. Crews working for both the city’s recreation department and the ski association Skiforeningen were standing by, though, and ready to groom trails as soon as the snow returns.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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