After three brutal days of travel from Oregon to San Fransisco, to Washington Dulles, to Munich, Germany, to Stockholm and finally Åre, Sweden, I thought I would be far too exhausted to see the beauty and mysteriousness of Sweden..but I didn’t even have to see it. I could feel it. When I deplaned in Östersund, I knew there was something special about the country (aside from the 30 below temperature).
On the bus ride from Ostersund to Are, I couldn’t help but stare out the window…I was intrigued and consumed with the view and the vast wintery layout. Everything was covered with white, dry snow. The air was clear and crisp, and the sun was setting behind a beautiful backdrop of countryside houses and snow-covered hills. When we arrived in Åre, I felt an aura about the area that brought me back to my childhood when I would travel to Canmore, Alberta for a weekend of skiing with my family. There was no one around during that time…I always felt like it was solely me and the enormous rocky mountains together–separate and isolated from all other aspects of life. I felt like I could breathe clearly and deeply–a privilege that I don’t realize I am deprived of until I get the opportunity to embrace it again. These were the same feelings I sensed upon arrival in Åre, Sweden.
The skiing deserves to be more than merely mentioned. Getting on the lift the next day was certainly a shock to my body, as it was -26 degrees Celsius and relatively humid, which made perfect sense considering we were skiing just above Åresjon (Åre Lake). But when we finally got off the gondola at the top of the mountain, the view was like nothing I’ve seen before–making suffering through the cold completely worth it. The beauty is unexplainable, and extremely hard to put into words…so I took some photographs that can help depict my feelings of the place. More on that soon…
The downhill run we raced on consisted of the definition of perfect snow…grippy and hard, making all of us feel like a hero–hence the name, “hero snow.” It made me think I could get away with anything, and left me feeling unsatisfied with just one run when I came through the finish. Luckily, we got 3 runs of downhill off last week! Every run down the track was somehow different…one was a lot faster than the others when the snow conditions changed slightly, and even the turns felt like they were in different places each time I skied down. It was an awesome course, and I can’t wait to return and try it again!
Aside from the racing, the skiing in Åre was seemingly endless. One day we were lucky enough to get a helicopter ride to the start of our downhill course! I took a video of it, which you can check out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HCQt-mlOOA
What an amazing ride–one that I surely will never forget.
All in all, the impression that Åre gave me was certainly an inexplicable one. It left me wanting more, and made me curious about Sweden and it’s history and culture. I cannot wait to return and discover more next time. But until then, check out these pictures and perhaps you’ll get a better understanding of the feeling I have been attempting to describe!
I am heading to Tarvisio, Italy right now for some more World Cup speed races this weekend! So check back in a while, and I’m sure I’ll have something new posted about another crazy adventure. But, until then…peace and love 😀
At the bottom of the hill…looking out on the lake
the gondola at the top
off one of the jumps in the downhill…