The adventure of buying (waxless) skis in Norway

person on skis in winter landscape

This is about as “wild” as I get on skis.

Let me begin by saying that I am not an ambitious skier. My dad taught me to ski as a child mainly when I visited him in the wintertime in Seattle. We would drive over the Cascade Mountains in my dad’s bright yellow 1979 Volvo 242DL to Mazama to go cross-country skiing. We also visited Finnish Lapland once to go skiing. Trips to the Alps were not within our budget, or really of interest either.

To this day I can manage just fine on skis, but I am definitely a below-average skier from a Scandinavian, and particularly a Norwegian, perspective. I stick to cross-country, never venture into the mountains, and prefer classic-style to skate-style. Basically I can go for ages straight forward, but am not so fond of the hills.

I bought my first pair of skis in Norway back in 2012. I remember vividly going into the store determined to get myself a pair of waxless skis, since I had never before waxed skis and neither knew the technique nor felt like dealing with the hassle. This trip resulted in a lecture from the salesperson about how waxless skis were basically the devil’s work, and should only EVER be used by small children, and I ended up leaving with a pair of waxable skis after all.

tips of skis in the snow

I had some good trips with my old waxable skis.

I have since skied quite a bit with that pair of waxable skis. Don’t get me wrong, they are very good skis. But the whole waxing business has gotten more and more bothersome. I don’t have a garage or even a storage room, so I inevitably end up waxing my skis in the middle of the living room floor. No matter how careful I am I end up getting wax on the floor, and then wax on my coat and gloves as I carry the skis around. Due to climate change the winter weather in Tromsø, Northern Norway, where I live is increasingly unpredictable, which makes picking the right wax for the snow conditions tricky. Finally, the fluorocarbons found in many commercial ski waxes are not good for the environment, or the health of professional ski waxers.

So this year I was determined to finally buy myself waxless skis. The last few years I have barely skied at all because of the hassle of waxing, and I have understood that due to the varying climate many Norwegians have also decided to opt for waxless skis. This time I went to a different store, a small local specialty ski and bike shop, hopeful that I could finally get the right pair of skis for me.

close-up of skis

The new waxless skis, you can see a bit of the patch of red mohair underneath.

Now the salesperson was very helpful, but when I initially visited he was out of the model he would have recommended for me. He did try to find something in stock that would work and ended up showing me a very nice, but way too sporty model. When I asked him honestly if they were “såpeglatt” (slick as oil) he somewhat reluctantly conceded that they were.

I ended up placing an order for the more suitable skis, and just went and picked them up. I am excited to try them out in the next few days, before we experience our 7th mid-winter melt of this season. I am pleased that I finally got my very own pair of “felleski” (a kind of ski with a strip of mohair fabric underneath for grip), and that it is now possible to buy them without everlasting shame. But those skis with fish-scale patterns underneath? Those are definitely still only for kids.


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