Sledging

Dear America: You’re doing sledding wrong.

Our Norwegian buddies told us yesterday that we were going to go sledding (which they keep referring to as “sledging”… apparently that’s what they call sledding in the UK). I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, sure, I figured the slope might be a bit steeper than what we’re accustomed to, but I thought it would be like the normal American sledding hill, where it’s completely straight and you basically can’t crash into anything and die. I also thought the sleds would be like normal American sleds… you know, plastic sleds.

Never been more wrong in my life.

We took the mystical line of the subway up to the mountain, which actually took a rather long time. (If you’re wondering why it’s the mystical line, it’s because we never see it so we doubted its existence. It does exist, by the way.)

The view from the top of the mountain was absolutely gorgeous, since you could see Oslo lit up far below.

When we got to the top of the mountain we walked down part of the hill to the sled shop, where we could rent sleds. As we walked down the hill we realized that holy cow, we were probably going to die.

See, Norwegians are nuts. Their sledding hill (mountain) was not straight… nope, it was chock-full of twists and turns. You actually need skill to navigate their sledding courses, you don’t just have to sit on your bum and enjoy the ride. You need to steer and brake and try not to go flying off the side of the mountain.

Speaking of which, there are no barriers on the turns. So you actually could go flying off the side of the mountain if you didn’t turn in time. Comforting, right?

Yeah, I thought so too.

I wasn’t particularly comforted when I saw the sleds, either. Here in Norway they’re not plastic, they’re wood, and they look more like luges than the sleds we’re used to. In other words, they’re scary as hell, they don’t steer well, and they have no brakes.

This is getting better by the minute.

Oh, did I mention that it was dark out, too? They had some lights on the course but some areas were pretty dark.

And apparently last year somebody broke their leg while sledding with their buddy groups. Swell.

Since we had to rent the sleds and they were a bit pricey, Kelsey and I decided to take turns using the sleds. I graciously let Kelsey go first. She made it around the first corner without dying, so I hoped she would make it down the mountain okay.

After some time Kelsey made it back to the start, then it was my turn to ride the death trap to the bottom of the mountain.

I was absolutely terrified.

So apparently there’s a way to steer using the feet things and the strap-handle thing but I gave up trying to use that since it didn’t work well, so I just dug my feet into the snow to steer and brake. And man did I brake. For one thing, you obviously can’t go into the turns while you’re absolutely flying or you’ll just shoot right past it and off the mountain. Also, occasionally people would stop in front of you which was basically like OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO KILL BOTH THEM AND MYSELF. Plus, the course and the sled were incredibly fast. I was absolutely flying, even digging my feet into the snow most of the time.

Since I was digging my feet into the snow, my face was basically sprayed with snow every five seconds. It wasn’t a problem unless it obstructed my vision, which luckily didn’t happen too often.

There were bumps all over the course which were impossible to avoid, so you would hit one and go flying, then hit another and another… it was ridiculous. Some of the bumps were huge too and you wouldn’t see them until you were right in front of them, so there was just no way to avoid flying over them. The bumps added an additional element of terror to the course since you lose all control of the sled when you’re going over the bumps. So basically, I was swearing like a sailor every time I went over one.

The course was about 2 km, which was a very long course. By the time I made it to the bottom, my face and pants were covered in snow and my fingers were absolutely frozen.

But.

I LIVED.

I felt very accomplished for not dying.

I met up with the other people in my buddy group and we took the subway back up to the top of the mountain which took about 15 minutes (we were actually a long ways down, which was surprising to me). Kelsey decided to head home, which meant I could take the sled down the hill for another run.

Which of course I did.

I mean yes, this was undoubtedly the most terrifying experience of my life. But it was also one of the most fun, and it’s definitely the best sledding experience of my life.

Norwegians are on to something.

I just wish the turns had some sort of barrier. It would be a little more comforting.

My second run down the hill was better than the first—I knew the course better so I wasn’t surprised coming out of every turn. I did manage to go off course the second time though. No, I didn’t go flying off the side of the mountain, luckily. It wasn’t that dramatic, but it was funny because it was only about 20 feet from the beginning of the slope. I steered too hard and just went right off into the deep snow on the side. I also went into some bushes. Whoops.

So anyways, I survived, but sledding in Norway down a mountain = terrifying.

When can I go again?

Oh, and a funny story. When one of my friends was sledding down the mountain, his shoe came off. Hahahaha. I’m assuming he retrieved it since I didn’t see him walking around barefoot, but still, most excellent.

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