To Ski or To Snowboard?

Growing up, I had just three influences in the world of winter sports. And what influences they were!

Eddie the Eagle Edwards

1. Eddie the Eagle Edwards, arguably the most famous British winter sportsman! Famous yes, but not for winning gold medals. He was famous for being CRAP!

Jamaican Bobsled Team

2. Cool Runnings. An awesome film about (essentially) crap bobsledders. Sensing a theme here?

3. Ski Sunday. One of the most legendary BBC theme tunes ever! After the intro music, vague memories of slalom races and cow bells are coming back to me…

Conclusion: British people and winter sports just don’t belong together.

So, obviously… this British person has decided to take to the slopes this winter.

Warning! Expect humorous photographs of me half-buried in snow over the coming months…

My winter sports dilemma

Last winter, my first living in Norway, I was far too nervous to put on a pair of skis. The closest I got was riding the T-Bane to Holmenkollen to watch the biathlon, and watching the World Snowboarding Championships from the comfort of my sofa.

I can't get away with that for a second year!

My dilemma is a simple one, which sport do I pick?

Cross-country skiing

There's no mistaking the most popular winter pastime in Norway. At weekends the cities are empty, with thousands of people taking to the hills. A dizzying array of cross-country ski trails form a winter motorway network, with the hills around Oslo especially busy.

But opinion is divided. Half the Norwegians I speak to insist I'll be hooked once I try it – the other half would rather sit at home and watch Liverpool on the TV.

Cross Country Ski - CC License from Wikipedia - Erik W. Kolstad

Alpine / Downhill skiing

This is what most Brits picture when they think of skiing, gracefully gliding down a slope. But I except I'll be more like Bridget Jones and end up on my arse.

Downhill Skiing


There's something about snowboarding that's just cool. I also find the concept of having both legs fixed to one board easier to comprehend (most of my skiing nightmares involve my legs going in different directions) – but again, I expect to end up in the snow far more often than on the snow.


There are other varieties including Telemark Skiing, but these are not for beginners. And I am most definitely one of those. The hills around Oslo are well suited to all three options, and I've been offered help/tuition/advice/support by friends in all three too.

So what's it to be – cross-country, downhill or snowboarding? Help me loyal readers!

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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 professional writer on all things Scandinavia.


  1. normal downhil. Cross-country is just… naff… Snowboarding will really put you off – far, far steeper learning curve.

    Normal downhill is fun. Main thing to rememeber is to lean forward to slow down. That is harder to put into practice cos feels WRONG, but really the trick. Oh and don’t be scared of falling over. It will happen, but the beauty of snow is, it doesn’t hurt!!


  2. Agree with Wendy. Start with downhill and move over to snowv´board later.
    Downhill is quite easy to learn and great fun.

  3. Why don’t you try all three, the degree of difficulty will help you make your mind up! I have trouble standing up and walking in snow let alone strapping on a pair of skis! So no more comments from me son. Good luck!!

  4. Hello,

    I am reading your blog and i like it very much. I am planning to come in oslo for work hpoefully soon enough.
    I am into snow sports, and I understand your dilemma. Personally I do snowboard so you think that i will suggest you to do snowboard. Well, both ski and snowboard are very dedicated sports. Snowboard you will learn faster than ski. Its easier, more playfull and you have to learn only how to stop and only one turn. BUT there is a but. You will fall down a lot, espacially in the begining when you will learn to combine the turns. And you will always have to sit down in the snow for puting your feet into the straps. Even taking the t-bars is difficult but you will learn it. Everything are difficult with snowboard but when you learn it you will enjoy it. It is challenging though.

    So go with your instict. Or you can do a lesson with ski and a lesson with snowboard and you will see what suits you.
    What I will do when I will come in Oslo, is to learn cross country ski so that I can do it easily after work in the park as excerise (its cheaper also) and on the weekend I will go for snowboard. A combination of ski with snowboard.

  5. That’s a damn hard decision! I just found your website as I was looking for blogs about living in Norway and it’s very helpful. I just arrived in Norway and will stay here for a least a year. Your blog is a great source of information! Thanks a lot,

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