Skiing from your sofa: take a 360-degree virtual reality tour of Norway’s ski slopes

Lucy Aspden
Explore the slopes of the Norwegian resort you've never heard of in virtual reality

When choosing a ski resort for your winter holiday it can often be hard to move away from your comfort zone and the familiarity of big-name popular Alpine resorts like Val Thorens, Tignes, St Anton, Verbier or Courchevel.

As much as you’d like to experience what a lesser-known ski resort has to offer, what if the slopes don’t match up to what you’re looking for? In an effort to banish all that doubt, Expedia has launched its first virtual reality 360-degree video experience of a ski resort.

While many skiers and snowboarders will be familiar with what the mountains in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland look like, Expedia has used this new technology to provide insight into the slopes of the Rauland ski area in Telemark, a winter destination most have probably never heard of in Norway.

The video, which can be viewed on both mobile and desktop devices, gives viewers the chance to watch the 360-degree footage or switch to virtual reality mode, with the help of a headset, to fully immerse themselves.

There are three routes of varying difficulty to choose from – each offering a different virtual tour of the Norwegian slopes.

Norway virtual reality ski

The Holtarbakken run is the most challenging with a mixture of red and black pistes. There’s the added obstacle of other skiers and snowboarders as the run progresses, as well as some insight into the resort’s slope-side accommodation and lift system.

The Rupa run is the longest and gives the viewer an option to choose a red or black run through the Norwegian forest after completing the first blue section.

The Rauland ski area will be relatively unknown by British skiers and snowboarders

The third option, the Tiur/Luringen run, offers the best views – as the video races down the slope, viewers are treated to a 360-degree panorama of the valley below and the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, the largest in Europe, in the distance.

Rauland is Norway’s fourth largest ski area, with 46 slopes, 17 lifts, a terrain park and 150km of cross-country trails. It’s home to three small resorts, Vierli Skisenter, Rauland Skisenter and Raulandsfjell Alpinsenter.

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The ski area is part of the Vinje district in the county of Telemark in southern Norway, southwest of the capital Oslo.

So far the slopes of Rauland are the first to be recorded in this way by Expedia, but as the interest in virtual reality grows, this way of reviewing and previewing resorts is bound to become more popular.

As the saying goes, the camera never lies and virtual reality tours are a sure-fire way to get an honest view of a resort or ski area, with no way to hide any lumps, bumps or secrets.

A virtual reality tour of the slopes is a hassle-free way to test-run a resort

This isn’t the first time the ski world has dabbled in new technologies. Early this year the augmented reality SKADI app launched, which turns the slopes into a computer game and also guides users around resorts through their headphones, picking the best routes for different abilities.

Back in 2015 The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard team also reported on the world’s first pair of augmented reality ski goggles, Ride On, which take the technology one step further by turning the slopes, as seen through the goggles, into a virtual reality and gaming world – a development which immediately raised questions of safety.

However, Expedia’s latest innovation is a much safer and less intrusive way of experiencing the slopes. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the sofa to try it out – just grab a cuppa and head out on the hill.