General about skis
Norway is infamous for skiing, and most Norwegians have grown up with skiing and love to go skiing in the winter time. At first glance, you may think that skis are skis and that they are all the same. However, as soon as you get into the world of skiing, there are a lot of different styles and types of skiing that should not be confused. I will shortly present the different styles and provide you with a chart on lengths, shoes and poles together with common places to obtain skis.
Disclaimer! This is just an introduction to skis and not a guide for advanced skiers.
Cross country skiing
Cross country skiing would be the winter equivalent to running. You go both up and down the hills by yourself and with training, you can go very long distances as well. There are two types of styles: Classical and skating for prepared tracks. To see where there are prepared tracks you can go to skisporet.no to see where and when the tracks have been prepared. Each prepping machine has a true time GPS tracker so you can walk in completely fresh tracks if you want to. The website also has recommendations for kick wax or grip wax as I am going to mention farther down. When you do not want to walk on prepared tracks mountain skis is your best option.
With the classical style, the technique is similar to walking, just sliding your feet in front of the other. The skis are slim and have a slight arch under the foot which will bend down when put pressure on. To manage to get easily up the hills, it is necessary to apply a kind of grip enhancer under the skis not to slide backwards.
Wax-free skis (smørefrie ski) have premade cuts in them that assures a good grip without applying. These are very practical but are not the fastest kind.
The most common and fastest type is the one where you have to add kick wax underneath. The type of kick wax depends on the temperature and whether the snow is new or old, and it should be applied a bit wider than the foot. DO NOT APPLY TO THE ENTIRE SKI! Are you unsure on how to apply, you can check out videos on youtube.
There are also skis that use fur on the skis called ski skins (felleski) that allows you to only slide forwards and not backwards. Using the old fashion, you attach the skins to the ski, while on the new modern type the skins are integrated into the ski. These are very easy to use and only need a cleaning spray and a defrost spray for maintaining the skins.
The boots for the skis are lightweight with very light ankle support. There are different systems to attach the boot to the ski, assure that you have the same system for both your boots and skis.
Skating is a technique where you are skating to get forward, just like roller blades. The skis do not use any grip enhancement and require a special skating ski which has a slightly different structure. The boots are higher and offer more ankle support but are otherwise almost the same as classical cross-country skis. This technique is not for complete beginners, and I personally recommend mastering the classical style before learning the skating style.
If you prefer to go outside the prepared tracks and make your own paths, mountain skis are your thing. These skis are wider and a little bit more stable, to ensure that you do not sink down in the snow. The poles are wider at the bottom for the same purpose. The boots are similar to hiking boots and have often a sturdy attachment system. The technique for skiing is the same as the classical skis, however, the widest mountain skis do not fit in prepared tracks. You can get these skis with steel edges to more easily manoeuvre in icy tracks. Warning: Do not ever use steel edges when walking with a dog, as you can easily cut the paws of the animal.
Downhill skiing is the skiing activity that consists of getting to the top of a hill, either by walking or a lift up, then to ski down the hills. Downhill skis are found in all types and sizes, but in general, they are wider and heavier to offer more stability. The shoes are heavy and offer good support. There are several skiing resorts all over Norway that offer prepared hills with lifts to get up on top of the mountains and then to enjoy the trip down. In contrary to cross country tracks that are often free to use, a day in an alpine centre would cost between 300 and 400 NOK. When riding downhill you should always use a helmet! Due to high speed and snow drifts, a lot of people also prefer to use ski goggles.
Carving skis are the most common type of skis for downhill skiing. They are wider in the ends and narrower in the middle with steel edges, offering you high a manoeuvrability. The boots are big and heavy and are locked down both heel and toe to the ski. It is very important to adjust the attachment system of the boot to your bodyweight to ensure that the skis will fall off in a hard fall or a crash.
There are many other types of downhill skis such as Telemark/Freeheel, Allmountain, Randonee and Freeride, but as these are not for very beginners I am not going to go deeper into those. There is a lot of information online for those that are more curious about these types.
How to get the skis
Try to borrow skis! Especially if it is your first time and you have never tried it before, this is often the cheapest option as you yet don’t know if skiing is going to be your thing. Close to big skiing resorts, it may be possible to rent skis. This can be the cheapest option if you are only going once or twice, but if you are planning to go a lot, buying your own skis would be the best.
Where to buy skis: second-hand stores, finn.no, Facebook and sports stores. Sports stores normally have sales in January and February on skis and other winter equipment.
In general, when picking skis there are a few things you should know about: Shorter skis are easier for making turns, longer are more stable for speed. As a beginner, it is often easier to go for a shorter pair of skis. Lighter people can have softer skis, that bend more easily. While heavier people should have harder skis, that require more force to bend. Down below I have made a size chart for the different equipment. The heigh is relative to your body height.
|Ski height||+ 20 cm to + 25 cm||0 cm to + 10 cm||+10 cm to +20 cm||-10 cm down to -20 cm|
|Pole height||– 30 cm||-20 cm||-35 cm||When holding the pole you should have a 90-degree angle in the elbow joint|
|Boots||Classical skiing shoes – lightweight||Skating shoes – higher ankle support||Mountain skiing boots, similar to mountain boots||Heavy supported boots that lock your feet to the skis.|