Spark Sleds!

 

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

Norway.

 

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

that later)

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.

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