Despite a lack of snow and steeps—and a surplus of rime and darkness—the resort of Åre, Sweden has produced as many Freeski World Tour champions as Chamonix, some of the most talented park skiers in the world, and earned itself an unlikely place in the annals of modern freeskiing. If you can stomp on ice, you can stomp on anything.
Åreskutan—one of the largest “mountains” in Sweden, and home to the Åre ski resort—is something of an anomaly. A mere bulge rising slightly above the other rolling hills in the southern part of the country, it is almost an insult to mountains in general to label it such, indicating it would have anything in common with the jagged peaks of the Alps, or even the nearby Norwegian coastal range.
The mountain (we’ll take the liberty to call it one) is covered in something white that more resembles ice than the fluffy white stuff of more substantial ranges. It is damp coastal snow, brought across the Norwegian border by howling Atlantic-generated blizzards, at temperatures far below zero. The result is heavy, icy and usually better-suited to skating than skiing...