Ridderrennet 2017 – Article by Chris Lewis
Ridderrennet, for the non-initiated, is a week of disabled cross-country skiing put on by the Norwegians, featuring the King’s guards from the army, students from the Sports Science degree course and a wealth of volunteers from across Norway.
Cross country skiing is ideal for us vision impaired as the two tracks that skis fit into help guide us up and down the variable Beitostelen terrain. Well, that’s the theory.
The 28 strong British delegation arrived in Beitostelen on Sunday 26th March to find “the worst snow conditions I have ever seen in my 43 years of attending the event” said Mike Brace. People who can see commented on how much of the mountain’s rock and ground they could see where former years have just shown snow piled up. The organisers shifted the activities from the sports and health centre to the World Cup centre and the fun began.
Everyone attending gets a guide allocated to them and they disappear during the week into the different parts of the resort to practice their skiing and shooting (with a sonic rifle, no bullets involved). The resort is so compact that everyone returns to the hotel to have lunch and swap stories about their triumphs and challenges. I have, personally, never experienced such a high level of helpfulness in a hotel. The main challenge for the VI attendees is avoiding the many wheelchair skiers hanging around the lobby!
Once the practice is done there is the matter of a couple of races. The biathlon took place on the Wednesday with a series of 2k circuits followed by the shooting. I bottled out of this as the conditions were ‘a bit challenging’ but those who took part had a lot of fun. The 8k race on Thursday and the actual Ridderrennet race on Saturday see the military band come out, lots of loud music and tension mounting as people compete against time and each other.
The atmosphere on Saturday was excellent with a couple of Norwegian Ministers also joining in the battle to get up hill as quickly as possible, gulping in deep breaths of fresh air at the top before plunging downhill again. I can honestly say I have never done anything quite so physically challenging.
The race was made more fun by my fellow Devils cricketer, Alan Turnball, being alongside me at one point and some very choice language being used when I fell across his path. He wasn’t to know that he had just sworn at a Minister of the Norwegian Crown as well!
The British delegation featured some real veterans like Mike Brace (43rd year of attending) as well as some newcomers who took to the sport like ducks to water (bad analogy). It is a fantastic week of challenging yourself against nature and also presents an opportunity to mix with fellow VIPs as well as those from other countries.
My favourite memory, though, is waiting for a car at the top of the mountain and seeing an army Volvo estate go past me with a wheelchair fixed to the ski racks at the top. I got pretty accustomed to people in wheelchairs shooting past me on the course.
Congratulations to the Norwegians for putting on such a fantastic inclusive sporting event and to all who participated in the British delegation. If you’ve never given it a chance, keep an eye out for next year’s event.
It’s a sport that demands a great deal physically but gives pleasure back in spades both from a sporting and social perspective.
article by Chris Lewis
- Ridderweek is held in March or April in Beitostolen Norway.
- You have the opportunity to participate in a 5km race for women or a 10km race for men; a biathlon (a 6km ski coupled with sonic rifle shooting); and the 20km Ridderrennet race.
- You can read Metro member’s accounts of the previous Ridderweeks by accessing the ‘articles’ link on this page.
- Contact Mike: firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries about next years skiing trip
Interested in VI skiing then check out the Metro blind Sport’s Skiing page