Embracing the Chill: My First Cross-Country Skiing Adventure in Norway

Yep, you heard it right – this tropical soul decided to trade in the sun for snow, and let me tell you, it was a decision well made. So, grab a cup of hot chocolate/chocomel, cozy up, and let me share the tale of my first cross-country skiing escapade in the breathtaking Norwegian landscapes.

Now, I’ve never really had an urge to jump into winter sports. I never went to the snow as a kid, and I proudly give myself the title of ‘Captain Cautious’ when doing outdoor adventuring. Therefore downhill skiing/snowboarding induces more worry within me than excitement if I’m honest. In addition to that, living with a permanently underactive thyroid always makes me feel a bit cold and living in The Netherlands, why would I go somewhere colder with even longer days at Winter?!

But, in the spirit of trying new things, I figured why not embrace the chill and give cross-country skiing a shot?

When KLM looses your bag, embrace your inner vintage ski look!

So why cross-country skiing? (Also know as Nordic skiing or Langlaufen ). Those of you who know my background, will know that endurance sport and deep nature is my jam. Cross-country skiing is an incredibly tough full body workout which takes you along quiet trails deep in Norwegian snowy valleys, hills and forests.

In a nutshell, I spent a long weekend gliding my way around deep nature in -22 Celsius with no chair lifts, no ski passes with very few people. Additionally it has a lower risk of injuries in comparison to other snow sports. If sport had a Winter love language for me, this is pretty much it.  

Our location in Norway, Sjusjøen, provided the perfect backdrop for our snowy adventure. Our accommodation was right on a groomed trail by a frozen lake, surrounded by a winter wonderland that seemed straight out of a fairytale. The air was crisp (very crisp!), the snow sparkled under the Nordic sun, and despite our luggage going missing for the first day, we still attended our first lesson to learn the ropes of this new sport.

Sunrise by the frozen lake!

Strapping on those skinny skis for the first time, with poles in hand, I wobbled and stumbled and fell countless times, resembling a newborn fawn finding its footing. Yet, there was an inexplicable joy in every awkward step, an excitement that comes from embracing the unfamiliar. There was a eureka moment for me with the instructor using some visualisation cues, and from there, the gliding sensation really started to happen!

However, although I learnt how to glide on flats, and climb the hills with confidence and conviction, I do still struggle with the downhills and did spent most of my descents throwing myself into the powdery sides of the trails. Miracles don’t usually happen in three days!   

As we started to master the basics and venture into the vast snowy expanse, I couldn’t help but marvel at the serene beauty of my surroundings. The Norwegian wilderness stretched out before me. The rhythmic swishing sound of my skis against the snow provided a calming soundtrack to my newfound winter adventure. There were moments where I found myself genuinely moved, however not to tears as they would have instantly frozen 😉.

Hairy icicles or icicle-y hair?

But this experience wasn’t just about the breathtaking scenery or the adrenaline rush of trying a new sport. It was about challenging myself, pushing my boundaries, and adapting to an environment vastly different from my usual comfort zone. As an adult, trying new things can be a bit intimidating – we often find ourselves stuck in routines and familiarity. However, stepping into the unknown can be incredibly liberating and humbling.

Cross-country skiing isn’t just a workout for the body; it’s a workout for the mind. Negotiating the undulating terrain, strategizing my moves, and adapting to the ever-changing conditions kept my brain engaged in a meditative way. (As well as also figuring out how to do sport and life in -22 Celsius too!)

It wasn’t about racing against the clock or outperforming others; it was about conquering my own mini challenges, no matter how small the descending hill was 😊. As adults, we often forget the pure joy of learning and growing. Engaging in new sports can reignite that childlike curiosity, helping us tap into our innate potential for growth and resilience.

Snowy bliss

Moreover, after the sun set and the skis were racked up for the evening, I warmed up in the surprisingly social activity of a sauna before dinner. Between 4-6pm, you could hear the chatter from the sauna from the moment you walked into the accommodation. Noone came travelling together, yet we chatted like old friends at a high school reunion. Extensive route debriefing and next day tips were in motion. Some took me under their wings by generously sharing with me lots of advice before I headed out for my next attempt. I felt a familiar ‘Irish’ warmth and friendliness within these Scandinavian ladies (something I sometimes miss from the Dutch culture). It reminded me that the joy of sports extends beyond personal achievements and ego driven goals; it can also be about forging little bonds with like-minded individuals.

After our long weekend away, I couldn’t help but reflect on how this winter escapade had transformed my perception of winter physical activity. Many of you know that I adore the great outdoors, and yet I am a self-confessed fair weather girl. I wrote a blog about ‘bad’ weather training. I take little to no joy in cycling/running/swimming/hiking in the wind and rain (no matter what expensive and extensive gear I have on). Therefore training in a Western European climate can often loose its magic for me in these Autumn and Winter months. The landscapes of Norway and the amazing wintery weather had become my playground, and the skis on my feet were the keys to unlocking a whole new world of possibilities.

Trying new sports as an adult isn’t just about the physical benefits. It’s about embracing change, nurturing a resilient mindset, and rediscovering the thrill of the unknown. The positive impact of novelty and variety in physical activity goes beyond the body, seeping into the realms of mental and emotional well-being.

Our grand 26km tour on the final day!

So, if you find yourself stuck in a rut, craving a change or already a bit bored of the new year resolution you made a month ago, consider trying any new sport that sparks your interest. It might just be the key to unlocking a world of adventure, growth, and a newfound appreciation for the amazing things your body and mind are capable of.

After all, life is too short to let the it go unexplored – embrace the unknown, or in my case…embrace the chill, and let the winter adventures begin!

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