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“We are born with skis on our feet”

Best skiing in Norway
Hafjell ski resort near Lillehammer

Shit Norwegians Say #2

Following up the classic, There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, is this tremendous eye-roller:

Excited Norwegian – “So David, are you going skiing this weekend?”
Me – “No.”
Confused Norwegian – “No!?”
Me – “No.”
Confused Norwegian – “But look at all this fresh snow, it's wonderful skiing conditions!”
Me – “I can't ski. I tried last year, and I'm really bad.
Confused Norwegian – “Buuuuut you live in Norway now, so you must learn to ski, ikke sant!?”
Me – “It's humiliating being overtaken by four year-olds”
Excited Norwegian – “Ah well you see, in Norway we are born with skis on our feet!”
Me – “Ever heard of Eddie the Eagle?”

When a Norwegian says to me “in Norway we are born with skis on our feet!”, I actually hear “You British are so crap at skiing, we are awesome, haha!”

I know it's really an attempt at sympathy, explaining that most Norwegians learn to ski from a very young age and therefore it becomes as natural as cycling or running.

For those new to the blog, I tried to learn to ski earlier this year. I really did. Look!

Happy after day one!

Unfortunately, that's the only time that day I smiled.

I don't just mean bad, I mean really bad. After a day of basically just falling over over hard-packed snow, I managed to reach the stage where I could propel myself forward along flat ground. The next day I managed to move uphill. But downhill? Back to falling over I'm afraid.

What didn't help was hundreds of kids, some not even of school-age, zipping past me in all directions. Ask a Norwegian for skiing advice and you get nothing of use back.

The reason? They all learned to ski when the idea of falling over was hilariously good fun. Up they'd get, and on they'd go. No fear!

For a 32 year-old trying to ski for the first time, the falling-on-the-floor thing is a bit different. It's a much bigger, much harder thud, and it hurts like hell! Getting up is an achievement in itself, let alone carrying on.

Are Norwegians REALLY born with skis on their feet?

An interesting question. I am yet to find a Norwegian that cannot ski, and the vast majority tell me they were too young to remember when they learned.

I thought I'd found one last month, but the reality left me even more depressed. The conversation went something like this:

Me – “So you ski right?”
Norwegian – “No.”
Me – Hæ!?
Norwegian – “No, I don't ski”
Me – “OMG! Srsly!? You can't ski?”
Norwegian – “Oh, well, I CAN ski yes, I learned when I was young. You see, in Norway we are born with skis on our feet.”
Me – “Oh really, I've never heard that one before. So why don't you ski then?”
Norwegian – “Because I go snowboarding every weekend.”

The Winter Olympic revenge

Norway's cross-country skiing crisis at Sochi has given us non-skiers a new opportunity to combat the phrase.

Norwegian – “Ah well you see, in Norway we are born with skis on our feet.”
Me – “Ah right. Shame you're not born with the right wax in your kit bags.”

Social life in the winter

Whereas in England we like to shut ourselves inside (or at the very least, in the pub) when the winter bites, in Norway people do the opposite. They strap on their skis and head on out into the wilderness.

The reality is, to properly integrate into Norwegian society, you really do need to learn to ski. Perhaps if we have a decent winter next year it'll be time to knuckle down and get on with it – away from pesky kids.

On the other hand…

Eddie the Eagle Edwards
Eddie the Eagle Edwards
Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

8 Comments

  1. I had to laugh as I read this one! My grandma used to say the same thing to me. She was born with skis on her feet. She would tell me stories of how she would cross country ski to school each day. I didn’t try skiing until I was an adult; on my honeymoon in Colorado. My husband is a fairly good skier and so he was teaching me. At one point, I almost freaked out and wanted to walk down the mountain. It took me quite some time but he patiently navigated me down the mountain. I’ve not been back to ski since! However, inside of me is this desire to tackle it once more and overcome. 🙂

    I love reading your blog!

  2. The secret really is to go somewhere off the beaten track, and perhaps when the kids are in school, so that you can take your time and not feel the pressure to ski like a Norwegian on the first or second try. Wishing you the best of luck!

  3. Haha! Laughed out loud at the wrong wax in you kit bag bit. ‘The butterman’ is what they call the guy responsible for the waxing, but apparently that’s not funny to Norwegians. They got the last laugh I suppose, with their massive chrome ski bus full of gold. If only there was gold for falling David!? Falls Gold perhaps 😉

  4. This is so true! I can see how they all know- our 3 year old goes to barnehage here (like kindergarten or daycare), & as soon as the snow arrived, all the little kids showed up with skiis to wear while they played outside!

  5. Been there, done that, about 35 years ago! But perseverance paid off, now I can’t live without my skis (just gave up snowboarding and got hooked on skating skis). The problem with learning as an adult is that the Norwegians don’t know what to tell you to help – slippery ground and planks on their feet just comes as part of growing up. The most important advice I can offer my friends from abroad is “look up”, and that applies especially when going uphill – by looking up the hill you automatically shift your weight to a better place over the centre of the ski, and they will sit better on the snow.

  6. I’m so happy to find this site!

    I moved to Bergen from Aberdeen 2 weeks ago, it’s been between 26 and 30 degrees since I arrived yet I’ve already had this conversation with someone! I imagine the attempts to get me on skis will increase as we get closer to winter, maybe if I prove how bad I am they’ll leave me alone?!

    Looking forward to reading more 🙂

  7. My now husband told me this on our first date, climbing up a mountain which he sprung up like a mountain goat, while I, the English girl from east Anglia, struggled to figure out where to step while tiny norwegians over took me..???? I remember reflecting on what that must mean for childbirth! Fortunately when our first son arrived the following year it proved to not be literally true, though he was a giant baby, I blame the viking genes ????

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