A skier on the slopes of Hemsedal, a popular destination for Danes. Photo: Erik Johansen / NTB Scanpix
At first blush it may sound ridiculous that flatlanders from Denmark would be better on the slopes than Norwegians, but according to a Norwegian doctor who specializes in ski injuries and a Norwegian who has spent 25 years working in the ski industry, it may be true.
Harald Lystad, who has studied ski injuries for nearly 40 years, said it’s a “myth” that Danes are more likely to hurt themselves on the slopes than Norwegians. If anything, the situation may be reversed.
“The Danes have gotten better because they ski more often. The myth that Danes are worse skiers must have come from them having previously come here as beginners. That’s not the way it is any longer,” Lystad told broadcaster NRK.
Lystad’s theory that Norwegians’ neighbours from the flat south are gaining on them on the pistes is shared by Knut Erik Hallingstad, who has worked at Geilo Ski Resort for 25 years. During that time, he says he’s seen a vast improvement in the skills of the resort’s Danish guests to the point where they now rival the natives.
“It has changed dramatically in the course of my decades here in the mountains. We used to generalize that Danes were terribly bad on skis,” he told NRK.
But now he says Danes actually spend more time skiing and snowboarding than Norwegians.
“Now we see that they are ready at 9:30 in the morning to take the lift up the mountain. And while Norwegians maybe use one week per year to go skiing, the Danes use two to three weeks. We [Norwegians] have become more fond of summer holidays and going south,” Hallingstad said.
Geilo ski patrol leader Knut Erik Fosskaug agreed.
“They [Danes] are clearly enjoying winter destinations more than before. The Danes likely use their skis more than Norwegians do today,” he told NRK.
Far from everyone buys into the theory that the Danes are the new Scandinavian kings of the slopes, however.
Copenhagen resident Søren Nielsen, for one, was skeptical when NRK caught him and his two sons on the slopes of Geilo.
“The past ten to 15 years we’ve gone on ski holidays in Sweden and Norway like never before. But we’re not as good as the Norwegians,” he said.