Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Morgedal & Sondre Norheim - The First Ski Bum

Last Friday in the Individual, Environment and Society - Winter course, we discussed the roots of modern skiing. Sondre Norheim, or as our instructor nick-named him, "the first ski bum" was born in Morgedal, Telemark. Sondre is known as the father of modern skiing and grew up in the mountains surrounding Morgedal. Born in 1825 and spending nearly sixty years in Norway, Norheim moved left for the United States, first living in Minnesota but ultimately settling in McHenry County in North Dakota.
Sondre Norheim Statue
Minot, ND
In 1987 a statue by Norwegian sculptor Knut Skinnarland was installed at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot. One year later, an identical statue was unveiled in Morgedal by King Olav V. In 1993 the Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame Monument was added to the Scandinavian Heritage Park. For more reading on Sondre, or to see pictures where he grew up in Morgedal, go to sondrenorheim.com


Our class will be taking a trip to Morgedal during the Morgedal Winter Games which last March 1-4. We will be there on Friday March 2 to enjoy Telemark skiing, learning how wooden skis and birch branch bindings are made along with other events. If you want to read more, go to Morgedal Winter Games


The second part of our class resumed after lunch and we had quite a long ski excursion into the mountains surrounding Bø. We skied on the path we previously took until we came to a trail head when we had the chance to ski towards some paths that are light at night. We used the "Herring Bone" technique to scale up the hill, using the edge of the skis and your poles for leverage you are able to walk up steep trails and slopes. 
Looking up the trail to the lighted tracks

Keeping warm
We split up into two groups, one of the groups was outdoor life and has many previous skiing excursions under their belt so they took a more difficult trail. The other group was from the outdoor life class and we took a more popular trail although it was more difficult than previous. Our group arrived to a shooting range that is literally built into the mountain side and is used for biathlons. We built a small fire, took some pictures and waited for the other group to arrive.



 Fifteen minutes or so passed and they had arrived, Tone, our instructor talked to us about how each Kommune is able to finance such lighted ski paths. Volunteers who keep them groomed and open each season play a big along with government financing. One third of the money comes from the government, often funded through the state owned gambling organization, another third comes from the local Kommune, and the last portion comes from sport clubs in the form of volunteering time and effort to setup the light poles and maintain the trails.

Our two instructors split us into groups and we did some relays where we paired up and we had to ski simealtaneously together, with ski poles like a chariot. The other relay required us to be blindfolded and follow the sound of our teams "chant" which I thought should be "quack". We ended up winning that event! It was great to have some fun in the nice clean mountain air after a long journey there but before long it seemed we had to pack up and go. We took an extremely steep trail out and it was difficult to maneuver because many people kept falling because all of the starting and stopping. Did I fall? Yes. Do I care? No. Did I get better at skiing and have a great time. Yeah!
Would a ski excursion be complete without a jumping picture?
Tone, our instructor even joined in, she in on the far right.


For those of you unfamiliar with telemark skiing techinuques, I found this helpful video.

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