Rollerskiing and Watermelon

Posted by Jake Brown on Jul 8th 2014

Besides the Holmenkollen world cup trails, you might be surprised to hear that there are no real parks for super-safe rollerskiing in Oslo. No Three Rivers park system, no Mississippi River Road, and no Greenway. After my first ski through hilly, narrow, winding, stop sign-less Oslo streets, I discovered that finding places to rollerski in Oslo might be a bit of a challenge. With the help of St. Olaf skier Josefine Brekke, NMU skier/NCAA All-American Fredrick Schwenke (both of whom are Oslo natives), and a few random Oslo-ian rollerskiers, I've found a few great places for over-distance skis and intervals.

Two roads, Sørkedalsveien and Mariadalsveien, are fantastic places for distance skis, taking you out to the rolling Norwegian countryside within minutes. I also found a long and relatively flat bike path, for days when I miss Minnesota! But, the find that I'm most proud of by far is the Voksenlia to Lillevann metro transit interval road.

After burning out a bit at the end of last winter, I'm trying to keep my focus on spenst (plyometrics), strength, and easy skis as opposed to hard intervals this summer. However, I still think it is important to get at least one intensity session in each week. Last week I discovered that the T-bane, Oslo's metro transit train, leaves the Lillevann station. It is near the top of Oslo's mountain (at least I like to call it a mountain). Every 15 minutes, the train goes straight downhill and stops at another station called Voksenlia 6.5 minutes later. It turns out that the remaining 8.5 minutes is just enough time for me to skate, hard, back up to Lillevann on a newly paved road with minimal car traffic. So this week, my interval session consisted of 5 x Voksenlia to Lillevann hill climbs, with a T-bane ride downhill for rest. The moment the doors swung open in Voksenlia I sprinted out onto the platform, down a small hill and under a bridge, where I popped on my skis and frantically started my watch and interval. There were some construction workers fixing the speed bumps about halfway up the road who started giving me really strange looks during my third interval after only seeing me go up, but never down. I think they figured it out eventually because by the end they were talking to me, but too fast for me to understand, and smiling.

I really enjoy adventure almost as much as I do skiing, so I've been doing my best to stuff the weekends with as much adventure as possible! Last weekend a few of us from the international school hiked up the Oslo "mountain", found a random tee-pee beside a fire pit and a tiny lake. We decided to sleep in it, which was a great idea until we all started freezing and throwing as much hay on top of us as we could for insulation. Long story short, we were at the T-bane station awake and ready to board long before the first train in the early morning was set to leave.

Oh and I must say something about the American 4th of July celebration, which was at Frogner Park, the biggest park in Oslo. The celebration featured Norwegians, with cowboy hats, singing American country music. There even was a football game going on. Parents could pay $10 to have their child try to hit a baseball. I also was speedy enough to win my section of the no-handed watermelon-eating contest, thanks only to the sage advice of St. Olaf Eating Champion Joel Bransky: "swallow before you think you can't." It works, thanks Joel.

This weekend I went to Jotunheimen National Park, which means "home of the Giants." Once again with a group from the international school. I was hoping to see Eli Manning and the rest of the New York Giants, however, I was a bit disappointed. Yet, we did see some reindeer herds, climbed a small mountain with an incredible view (and was nearly blown off by the wind!), slid down the snow on our butts, and jumped in the glacially-fed (and green!) lake. It was a great opportunity to get to know some of the other international students, who are from everywhere from Brazil and Burma to Bosnia and Bulgaria.


The Oslo International Summer School crew on top of the world in Jotunheimen! It's been great to meet people from all over the world, even though they think us skiers are crazy for training so much.


I thought that doing core while waiting for the bus was a good idea... until I missed the bus.


The watermelon-eating contest. In America, we would eat the whole melon, right? But I suppose a watermelon probably costs at least $50 in Norway.
Inside the T-bane, which doubles as a metro train and an interval-recovery-and-transport vehicle.

-Posted by Jake Brown on Jul 8th 2014