from David Dermott , Wolfville Ridge, Nova Scotia, Canada
(Full name in Swedish/Norwegian is sparkstötting, or putkukelkka in Finnish,
dictionaries translated it as "kick-sled" or"chair-sled")
I think "sparks" have as much to do with nordic skiing as
snow-boards to downhill skiing (a spark is a lot more
useful that a snow-board too!) It is a "complementary" activity
to skiing, when there is no snow or the trails are too icy.
One can use a spark on ice that is too rough for skating.
The kicking action (spark == kick) uses the same muscles
as classic skiing.
I managed to beg or borrow a spark in most of the towns where I
stayed in Norway. A spark is by far the best way to visit small towns in
The news isn't all good. Maihaugen (open air museum
in Lillehammer) used to have sparks for visitors to borrow, but evidently
they have all been stolen! I did notice that everyone in Lillehammer
now locks their sparks. I asked at the tourist bureau and they called
someone in City Hall (Rådhus). The town does have sparks for visitors.
They let me have one for free for 2 days, with no deposit !
Then I went to Tynset (pop. about 3000) where "Tarzan" and "Rapp"
sparks are made at the NORØ factory. The first thing I saw when I got
off the train was the giant spark (world's largest according to Guiness)
in the town square. I guess the giants of Jotunheim use it!
The manager of the hotel loaned me her spark for 4 days. There are a lot of
bike lanes in the town that are great for sparks. The school parking lot
was full of sparks (students and teachers). The good starting points for
the ski trails are about 3 km from downtown, so every day I carried my
skis on the spark up to the ski stadium parking lot, locked the spark to
a tree and went skiing for the day (on some great tours BTW, more about
I even had a talk with one of the marketing people from the factory
and got my picture in the regional newspaper!
I got the impression that many Norwegian teenagers (except in Tynset)
think that sparks are not "kewl" < Sparks are for "bestemor" doing her
shopping! > < One doesn't see the kewl dudes and babes on "Baywatch" or
"Beverly Hills 9xxxx" using sparks! > Certainly many of the people I've
seen on sparks were elderly, but that's the beauty of it - all ages can
use it. The are some very serious racers in Finland -it can be a very
aerobic activity or it can be used for getting the groceries.
Alas, here in Eastern Canada with heavily salted roads, the
original street use of sparks is limited. But a spark makes
a good winter "canoe" of frozen lakes - it's a lot easier to
portage than a canoe, too!
In Alberta the streets in small towns are not salted so
I think there may be a potential market for sparks out there.
Movie Trivia : "Song of Norway" musical, 1970: Almost the very
first scene in the opening credits is of a person crossing a lake
on a spark. Later in the movie in the Christmas scene- filmed
in Maihaugen- there are some sparks.