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In love with Norway, ‘home of skiing’

Steve Jack, 19 September, 2019
We’ve known Trevor De Villiers for several years, and he’s one of the most enthusiastic people you could hope to meet. So we thought it was about time to quiz him on one of his favourite subjects – Norway.
 

Tell us a bit about yourself. You have a distinctive accent, so we’re wondering how you ended up spending so much time in Norway?
You noticed! [Trevor laughs; this happens a lot.] Yes, well, as you can tell, I’m originally from South Africa (Cape Town), but I’ve lived in the UK for ages. I’ve done various jobs in the travel business, but it was while I was a contract manager for Neilson that I fell head over heels in love with Norway. I then got a job with Norway full-time, and it was like a dream: I became Norway-mad, because the place had somehow captured my heart and got into my head. It must have been obvious, because I was even presented with a ‘travel ambassador’ award by the Norwegian Government. Funny that – a South African becoming a UK ambassador for Norway! Now I head up a business called Norway Home of Skiing which works closely with Inntravel and which helps to promote Norway as a pre-eminent European ski destination.

What do you love about Norway as a holiday destination?
How long have you got?! Well first of all there’s that special, natural beauty. It comes from the wide-open landscapes, and from the fact that Norway is not overrun with tourism. There’s a care here – a reverence, even – for the environment that I find inspiring, and it’s not even that far away. I mean, a country as incredible as this and it’s practically on our doorstep!

Tell us about cross-country skiing: how come it’s pretty much the national sport with its ‘home’ in Norway?
What you’ve got to understand is that Norway is cross-country skiing, more or less. I mean, everybody – but everybody – does it, from the youngest kid to royalty. Each winter, the nation’s cross-country trails have to be prepared and made available to all – it’s the law! And when it comes to the sport, Norway has a virtual monopoly on talent. I believe the top three winter Olympians of all time are Norwegians – and they’re all cross-country skiers! So the country and the sport are, in some ways, synonymous. 
 
What would you say to those who think that cross-country skiing is just for older people or those who don’t like downhill?
Ahh, the myths about cross-country... Yes, it’s good that we talk about those, as I was a bit sceptical too at first. But when you’ve been to Norway, and seen what it’s like, you get a completely different impression. It blew my mind. Everybody skis there: young people, old people, groups of friends, families – I mean why not? They head off into the wilderness with friends, surrounded by nature. It’s accessible and so easy to do. There’s no cumbersome equipment, and you feel free to explore. I grew up with downhill skiing, and hadn’t even tried cross-country until three years ago, but now I’m hooked!

Isn’t Norway a dark, cold and expensive place to go on a winter holiday?
That’s what some people say, but it’s really not true. Again, just give it a try and you’ll find out for yourself. Daylight hours aren’t actually that much different from ski destinations in the Alps, and there are kilometres of floodlit trails for those who want to ski later in the day. (Geilo, for example, is home to the National Elite Sports Ski Academy (NTG), so the trails have to be illuminated for regular practice.) You soon warm up here, even on the coldest days, with all that invigorating exercise; and OK, yes, the price of alcohol is high, but there are ways around that, too: buying duty-free on arrival, for instance, or purchasing from shops. So don’t let any of this put you off – the rewards are fantastic.
 
What can you expect the first time you try cross-country skiing? Is it difficult to learn?
You really need to think of it as a completely different sport: it’s got more in common with hiking than with alpine skiing – which is why just about anyone who enjoys walking in the mountains in summer will really enjoy it. Compared to downhill skiing, it’s a revelation: first get your balance, then, after just a couple of hours’ lessons, you’ll feel like you’re really getting the hang of it. After that, you’ll soon be out in the mountains, loving every minute. 
 
Why should Inntravellers choose Norway for a cross-country skiing holiday?
Need I say more? It’s beautiful, it’s unspoiled, it’s friendly, everyone speaks English, they’re super-organised, and it’s the literal – and spiritual – home of the sport. It’s perhaps for this reason, above all others, that people in Norway really care: they want you to experience their national sport, and to enjoy it with them, in their precious, snow-covered paradise.

Can you tell us about Beitostølen, the Norwegian village that has recently been re-introduced to Inntravel’s Snow collection?
Ah yes, Beitostølen is a remarkable place. It always has been, since its founder, ski guide Steinar Hovi, added some simple accommodation back in the 1960s, right through to what it has become today – a really friendly village where everything is close by, the views are superb (the iconic Bitihorn mountain has become its symbol), and where you’re right in amongst some superbly varied ski terrain.
 
What makes it unique?
For a start, it’s where the Norwegian cross-country ski team come to train, and where the championship circuit begins every year. So I suppose you could say that within this country that is itself the ‘home of skiing’, Beitostølen has a rather unique status. And despite the fact that it is now a leading venue, where no effort or expense is spared in delivering the very best for visitors, it retains an authentic village feel while remaining a true family concern. In today’s modern world, that feels very special indeed.
 

Related holidays

Bergo Hotel, Beitostølen
In addition to its many kilometres of scenic, cross-country trails, laid-back Beitostølen has plenty to offer downhill skiers, as well as those not looking to ski at all! Our chosen base – the family-run Bergo Hotel – is a wonderful place to spend a week in the snow.
More about our winter snow breaks in Norway >
Last fetch time is : 10/22/2019 10:47:24 AM