The Swedish word of the day is "skidbacke" which means ski slope. I recently learned it when I tried to express my weekend plans to my co-workers at Rapatac because skiing kind of determines my free time right now. And since I want to write a little about my skiing experience so far, I think it introduces this report quite well. Next to that, today I will also share some of my thoughts about ski slopes, the winter time, and how the topic of climate change is connected to all of that.
But first of all I have to say, every year is different, so for sure I can only write about my experience here during the winter 2021/22. But of course I also talked a lot about these topics with other people here so I guess I can also give a little wider few on it:
Arriving here at the beginning of September, I got to enjoy the last days of a late summer and a wonderful golden and sunny fall before it got quite cold pretty fast. Already in November the temperatures started to drop below zero and it felt like the winter time started. I was so excited for a long season full of snow to go skiing and ice skating. My December was pretty packed with work and Christmas events so that I didn`t focus on including that many winter-activities in my free time here yet. According to the locals, the most winter it is from January until March. So, after coming back from my vacation in Germany I couldn`t wait to go skiing and ice skating. It`s winter time in Sweden!
And I need to say, it really is beautiful. I have never experienced so much sun and blue skies during winter time, even though the day hours here in general are still quite short. Since the beginning of the year the lakes are solid frozen and there are many opportunities to go skiing as well. But I also need to mention that we are able to see the effects of the global warming. During January and February it only snowed little and most of it melted quickly because the temperatures were often around zero. Just now, at the end of February, it started to snow more again.
Ice skating on the lake is possible during almost the whole winter since the layer of ice is pretty thick and without snow it`s like a mirror. But doing cross country skiing just out in the nature is limited most of the time to a few slopes that often contain artificial snow. As I heard from many people who have been living in Sweden for years, this is getting more and more common. Although Sweden still has beautiful winters and lots of snow almost every winter, you see the changes in the weather clearly. It is getting warmer and there is less snow year by year.
But what`s about all the winter sports then? Most Swedish people love the outdoors and exercising also during the winter time. Having less snow of course reduces the opportunities of going skiing for example. But since it is part of the lifestyle, slopes for cross country and downhill skiing are still provided in many places, often with the use of artificial snow. This is a great opportunity for free time activities but it is also important to be aware of the environmental part. Of course all the snow machines and lifts are not exactly beneficial when it comes to fighting against the climate change and it is important to have that in mind.
But should we judge the country because they have ice arenas, skiing areas, and artificial snow? Aren`t Swedish people especially known for being so close to and careful about nature? In my opinion it is always about the balance and the awareness. For sure there are always ways to improve being more environmental friendly and that is also what many people working on today. But as long as we decide for ourselves if we are okay with the dimensions of it, it is understandable to also use those opportunities.
Also I need to bring up that compared to the size of Sweden, it has not that many skiing areas and often designs winter sport activities in harmony with the natural surroundings. For example is ice skating on the lakes just as popular as in an ice arena, what definitely helps increasing the sustainability of this sport. Also do people practice cross country skiing mostly during times of much snow and there are rarely long tracks full of artificial snow.
As a conclusion of what I heard and experienced I would definitely say that Sweden is doing a self-reflective job when it comes to sustainability in winter sports, especially compared to other countries. It`s trying to use climate friendly solutions as much as possible, but if a winter comes around in which the effect of climate change are shown clearly, a balance and a compromised resolution is trying to be found. With this way, skiing and ice skating is made accessible for the mass and everyone can enjoy outdoor activities, mostly in harmony of sustainability. But of course, no one is perfect and there can always be improvements. And with this, I want to finish todays report and hope you got a little overview of the topic as well as some points to think about yourself.