Norwegian Wood

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First Tracks

THERE WAS ONLY A SPATTERING OF BLOOD AT THE 2005 UNOFFICIAL NORWEGIAN

Skitrehopping (that's ski tree jumping) Championships last March, a low casualty rate considering that competitors ski into birches at 20 miles per hour. The goal-beyond flouting skiing's "avoid the trees" edict-is to pop off a kicker, sail into the canopy of a small tree, and latch onto a branch. Points are scored on height, control, hang time, and style. The key, according to skitrehopping ringleader Vidar Eggimann, an Oslo-based engineer, is to get as much air as possible. The lower you go, the greater the chance you'll get hurt.

The sport's following is tiny-only eight jumpers showed for the championships. And its origins are murky: Skitrehopping may trace its roots back to the first generation of Norwegian slalom skiers who, some claim, jumped through trees rather than skiing around them. (Eggimann learned from a friend.) So will skitrehopping make it Stateside? Evidently someone-besides us-hopes so. "That sounds sick!" says Utah-based pro skier and cliff dropper Julian Carr. "I mean, I've thought about tying a rope to a tree and doing a big old swing on it, but I never thought about using the branches. Big thumbs up."

September 2005