I’d always wanted to try it, ever since I’d seen the Canadian ski patrollers doing it. They were some of the most graceful, masterful skiers I’d ever seen, or have seen since. The unique thing was that they used the so-called Telemark style and equipment.
For the non-skiers, that means that instead of your whole foot being strapped to a plank, it’s just your toes which are attached. It’s slightly eccentric-sounding minority sport, but – if done with sufficient style – the results are poetry in motion.
Today is my first attempt, and it’s definitely not poetry. Instead I career all over the piste, trying to fight against the urge to ski in the alpine style as I trained to do. It’s bizarre and uncomfortable and I look like I fool.
But there’s nobody there to watch me looking like a fool, because it’s still -23°C at lunchtime and the locals have evidently decided that there’s no point hitting the local slopes when they could wait ’til next weekend when the temperature is nicer. I see about 5 other skiers during the afternoon.
Persistence pays, and by the end of the day I’m happily skiing the hill top-to-bottom, albeit with zero points for technique; immensely happy to have taken an ‘unnecessary’ extra day out of my riding to give this new and difficult sport a try.
The Telemark skis show their trump card on the way home. My Dutch expat host Franz and I trek through the deep snow in the forest, cross-country style thanks to the unbound heels of our boots, and back towards his inviting wooden cottage on the edge of the town.
I arrive home tired and looking forward to a very Norwegian dinner of salmon, and a final night under a roof before hitting the road again in earnest – destination: Sweden.