Descender: Where did you grow up?
Frode Gronvold: I grew up in Lillehammer, Norway. Within an hours drive to three surrounding ski-areas and only 20 minutes to my own home mountain, Hafjell. My parents took me cross-country skiing when I was two years old, and since then I've tried almost every way to get down a mountain. I grew up skiing three to four days a week. Evenings after school, weekends and even during school. Our magic limit was four inches of fresh or more to skip school. Fortunately for my education, it doesn't snow too often in that part of Norway. The conditions are mostly hard and artificial day in and day out, but as long as there are some good kickers, we kept coming back.
D: When did you start freeheeling?
FG: I started freeheeling in the 95/96 season. During the summers, I used to hang out in a summer ski resort in Norway called Stryn. My sister was working there at the time and on the last day that season, she managed to get both my spray painted (ski graphics have never been appealing) alpine skis stolen. I had to get a new stash. All my friends were either snowboarding or telemarking, and I guess the second was the best decision for me. I remember the snowboard made me claustrophobic. I couldn't move!
Location: Chamonix Photo: Daniel Bloomgren
D: How is the freeheel scene in Norway?
FG: During the "rebirth," everyone did it, or at least wanted to. But what happened, the way I see it, is this. People in Norway are not that comfortable with having to travel to go skiing, they would rather just walk out the door and put their skis on. Therefore, every little place in Norway with a few houses has their local hill or ski area. Cause everyone skis! In the most populated area the terrain is flatter and it doesn't snow too often (when it does the snow cats roll in, spoiling everything).
FG: The way I see it, telemarking isn't always as fun on icy, concrete slopes. On a snowboard however, you can play around on almost any condition, because it's easier. And together with youth culture and fine young men as Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck, the sport went off! So today you'll find just as many snowboarders as you find telemarkers in Norway. Everyone throwing themselves off whatever object presents itself. When it comes to skiing/snowboarding, Norwegians truly are a bit crazy, it's always been that way.
FG: The first time I skied the U.S., I was surprised to see everyone staying in contact with the snow all the time, and they were always in control. People were actually taking ski lessons too! In Norway you learn to ski from your parents. The only real difference in the freeheel scene of Norway from the American scene, must be that American freeheelers tend to prefer green herbs instead of "snus." And I guess they're generally more laid-back and open minded.
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