The tower of the Holmenkollen ski jump disappeared into the mist enshrouding the area as we approached, weary from our classic ski that morning. In awe, we marveled up at the structure, wondering at the courage of those who fly off the jump. After exploring around a bit, we met up with Espen, our tour guide of the ski museum who also happens to be Scottie’s cousin! He greeted us with a humorous smile, and launched into the history of the ski jump. He showed us a diagram with the progression of the jump over time, and in the early years around 1800, the outrun of the jump crossed a frozen lake! Now, the jump towers over Oslo, visible from many of the views around the city.
Without further ado, Espen led us excitedly into the ski museum, built partially into the tower of the jump and partially underground, which gave a taste of the remarkable architecture found in Norway. First, we went to an exhibit displaying an old boat with two measly oars that looked ramshackle and loosely designed. We were told that the boat was used by one of the famous Norwegian explorers at the time named Fridthjof Nansen.
Nansen tried to be the first to reach the North Pole by studying the patterns in the ice movement and freezing his boat in correspondence with the ice movement so that the ice would move him directly above the North Pole, but he couldn’t make it. During Nansen’s adventures, he skied many miles on polar ice, and his skis were shown in the museum; they were wide, flat, and seemed to float across the snow!
Espen moved us along to exhibits displaying the difference between the Norwegian/Swedish flag that flew when Norway was in union with Sweden under the same king and the “clean” Norwegian flag (without a Swedish flag in the corner) Roald Amundsen flew when he reached the South Pole. Apparently Norway wasn’t a huge fan of the Swedes at the time, and large rivalries existed between the two countries, so all heads turned to me, the partial Swede, in mock accusation.
Throughout the centuries, the evolution of skis from dense wood to high tech fiberglass and carbon was incredible; the museum provided a timeline collection of actual skis from each time period. An interesting time period and location was in Finnmark where the skiers only used one pole which had a specialized function (a bowl on one end was meant for drinking water, or a knife was meant for slaying enemies or “elg”, the Norwegian word for “moose”).
After giving a “thank you” or “takk for alt” to Espen, we had time to explore the museum! Straightaway, we found a children’s corner that had a pit full of white plastic balls that resembled snow! Many of us crowded into the pit, burying each other and having “snowball” fights! After everyone dug themselves out of their snowbanks, we moseyed down the stairs into the gift shop, where we pondered the meaning of words in Norwegian cookbooks and tried on expensive Norwegian sweaters while the coaches had a “kaffekalas” in the nearby cafe.
Finally, it was time to step back out into the misty day in Oslo, and we walked down to the vans near where the national ski teams parked their wax trucks. We loaded up (after creating a small snowball fight with real snow) and were off towards Astri, Håkon, Knut, and Aslak’s cozy house for dinner with the local ski club! Today was filled with fun! It took me soooo longgggg to write about it in my journal which is a good sign… 🙂