Long winters, frozen rivers and lakes, and beckoning snow-topped mountains make Sweden, Norway and Denmark a fabulous destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
It’s possible to participate in all kinds of activities, including snowshoeing, ice climbing and snowmobiling, and many ski areas can provide equipment and organize expeditions. Even in the heart of Scandinavian cities, winter sports abound; in Stockholm, for example, you can fly round the 14 islands on a pair of ice skates. Just 20 minutes by tramcar in Oslo, you’re in the middle of an Alpine winter wonderland.
Naturally, skiing is the biggest winter sport, whether it’s downhill (Alpine), cross-country or Telemark. Downhill skiing in Sweden and Norway attracts a growing number of visitors thanks to artificially produced snowfall, a variety of slopes and a reduced avalanche risk compared to Alpine resorts.
Sälen is the largest ski resort in Sweden, and Swedish Åre and the Norwegian capital Oslo, where the World Cup Ski Championships are held, attracts skiers from all over Europe with hundreds of top-class, superbly groomed pistes, served by high-speed lifts and cabins. Half-pipes and snow parks are available for snowboarders.
Norway’s six months long skiing season is a boon to fantastic, and there are resorts scattered up and down the country, from Sirdal in the south to Tromsø way up in the Arctic Circle.
Halfway between Oslo and Bergen, Hemsedal is the largest Norwegian ski resort with 51 downhill slopes, cross-country trails and several excellent terrain parks for snowboarders. Although it’s only small, the Kvitfjell resort wins kudos for containing the “black diamond” downhill run used in the 1994 Winter Olympics.
At Geilo pure adrenalin-seekers can try snow-kiting, a hair-raising sport whose stars reach speeds of up to 100kmph (60mph).
All images from Norway: Visit Norway
Image from Åre: Åre Ski Resort, Sweden
Feature image (on top): Downhill skiing, Voss Norway (Visit Norway)
Winter Sports in Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg
Denmark on Ice