Do a physically rigorous activity (bike riding, running, sports singing, playing) that you always wanted to do but have not done yet.
Yes, I am Norwegian. Yes, my parents are Norwegian, and all four of my grandparents were, and every ancestor as long back as I know were born either in Norway or Sweden. And yet I don’t think I like skiing.
Sure, I have tried. I watched the Olympics and the World Championships and the World Cup skiing events at every opportunity, some winters every weekend. There is a reason names like Ernst Vettori, Pavel Ploc, Bård-Jørgen Elden, Pål-Gunnar Mikkelsplass and Atle Skårdal still bring forth lots of memories.
And I didn’t just watch skiing, either. I got my first skis before I started school, and I used them: one year I got Skiforeningens distansemerke in gold. (I forgot how many kilometres I skied that winter, but it seemed like a lot.)
And yet I never learned to like snow, or winter, or skiing. And in the last 20 odd years I have expertly managed to avoid doing the most Norwegian thing of all.
I am sitting on top of the baby hill. The one where three-year olds spend their first day with their new skis before advancing to the children’s hill. I am attached to a snow board. I have never in my life been attached to a snowboard before. My feet are cramped, my ankles useless, I have just locked the boots and have a slight sense of claustrophobia.
I try in vain to unlock the boots a couple of times and my sense of claustrophobia heightens.
The proper skiers take the proper ski lift above me, some of them stare as the lift moves slowly past. A four-year-old skis expertly down the slope with his father, and I am alone on the hill.
I pull whatever is pullable on the boots a couple of times, and suddenly I manage to unlock them. Phew. I lock them again and envision myself flying down the slope.
Let’s do this. Get up.
But how do you get up? I try with the board in front of me, but only manage to point my knees towards the sky. I push with my hand behind me, and try to pull myself up, but it doesn’t work. I slide down to get the board beside me. I push with my hand again, and I get up, a few centimetres, I slide a metre and fall on my butt. I try again. I fail again. I try again, I manage better, but only to fall and tumble down a few metres. Blood is dropping from my right hand onto the icy snow.
I push with my hands again. No luck. A family with two small children are going slowly up the baby lift. How do you do this, I ask them. Just slide down sideways, the mother says, but be careful, don’t break a leg.
Break a leg? How do you break anything when you can’t even get your butt off the ground?
You need gloves, the father adds.
I look at the top og the hill. I have managed to move fifty metres. If that. A new personal best. Perhaps that should be enough today.
I unlock my boots and walk down the rest of the baby hill. The family of four zoom past; the youngest on a snow board. The parents avoid eye contact with me.
I have always wanted to be able to snowboard like a pro, it seems like fun. But I never tried until today. And now I now what I suspected all along: it’s wet, cold, and not my cup of tea. I would rather ski for fifty kilometres through a dark forest than go snowboarding for a day — and that says something.
I must confess I actually don’t like skiing, and especially I don’t like skiing downhill and taking a lift up, over and over, and I like even less to do the same with a snowboard.
This is my confession. I am Norwegian, but I don’t like the most Norwegian thing there is.