Maree:Friday thru Sunday we were with our host families in Porsgrunn. I ended up bumping into Hannah and Kristine on a walk by the fjord Friday evening, the day we arrived. They had been for a long walk – a very Norwegian thing to do! Then, when I saw Hannah this morning, the first thing she said was that she and Kristine had had a “bath” in the fjord on Sunday evening. Now, that is impressive! What a sport!This morning we met at Porsgrunn school to head up the mountains. Hannah and Kristine went by bus with the Norwegian (30) and Minnetonka (15) students. I rode along with Truls and his son August. The Minnetonka teachers rode with Margarethe (IB coordinator at Porsgrunn School). The drive was beautiful! We drove by forests, mountains, ice and snow covered lakes, farms, hyttas (Norwegian cabins) and stabburs (decorative wood framed farm buildings up on stilts, traditionally used for storing food).The Norwegian Ski Museum – Norsk Skieventyr – was incredible! The museum had a multimedia display of the following: the development of skiing (4000 years) and ski equipment; the role of skiing in Norwegian battles/wars (including the Birkebeiner story); the development of ski wax, including a display of equipment from the first Norwegian ski wax factory; the evolution of cross country, alpine, snowboard and telemark skiing/equipment; and an exhibit telling the life story of Sondre Norheim, including a small replica of his cabin. Sondre Norheim is considered the “father of modern skiing.” He was known to have mastered cross country, slolam and telemark skiing. He made skiing FUN! A few other notable museum displays included an exhibit of ski bindings which showed how they have changed over the years, beginning with rope, to leather, to rottefella (did you know that literally means “rat trap”?) to NNN. The museum also had an historical exhibit of roller skis; my how those have improved! I think the Loppet community would love this museum. I certainly did, and wish I had had more time. I read that outside the ski museum, the Olympic flame is burning. The flame was lit for the first time in Morgedal for the Oslo winter games in 1952. It was lit here again for the Squaw Valley and Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1960 and 1994 respectively.After the museum, we headed to the home of Sondre Norheim, a tiny cabin nestled high up on the mountainside. The bus could only make it part way because the road was twisty, turny and covered in slush and ice. So, the students walked up the road to a snowy trail and trudged up to the little cabin. The sod roofed building has a small bed, table, stove and cabinet inside. Photos of Sondre Norheim hang on the wall. On the way back down, some of the Norwegian students slid down on improvised sleds – plastic bags!
About an hour later we arrived at Rauland Ski center. The students settled into their hotel, a beautiful modern hotel with great views of the mountains, two game rooms, and a restaurant. The students will eat their meals there. We are staying a small condo and will cook for ourselves. I am together with the Minnetonka teachers Gwenyth and Sara, and Margarethe, the Norwegian teacher. We were all outfitted with telemark boots and skis. This took a couple of hours for Truls, Frode and their student teacher. Lots of gear and logistics!We meet with the students at 10am tomorrow. They were a bit short on telemark skis, so I will Nordic and hope to swap gear and telemark the next day. The weather looks terrific – high 20-30’s and there is SO MUCH snow! Can’t wait to see what the skiing is like.