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A woman skiing in the 40s. Image courtesy of Maud Tarras Wahlberg

Sports

The thrill of the chill

There’s a reason the Swedes have 25 different words for snow.

Not everybody is drawn to the warmth in winter. There’s something about very cold weather that has always made us feel alive.

Back in 1927, Beau Magazine ran a travel brief on the delights of Sweden as a winter destination—full of ski-running, skat-sailing, and ice-yachting.

Every year sees more English winter sports enthusiasts visiting the various winter sports centers of Sweden.

Few European countries offer such perfect conditions for ice and snow sports, and none offers such a great variety, for in addition to the usual list, Sweden can add the excitement and the delights of long cross-country expeditions in horse-drawn sledges through forests and amid enchanting scenery, and the unique experience of ski-running behind reindeer.

A man racing two reindeer in a vintage photograph. Photo by James Losey via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Run, run, Rudolph! Reindeer racing involves the animals sprinting across the snow pulling skiers or sledders. Photo by James Losey via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The season is at its height between the end of December and the end of March, though at the famous sports resort Åre, in the center of Sweden, and in the Lapland center of Abisko, conditions are ideal until after Easter.

Sweden’s gay capital must be regarded as pre-eminently the center of Swedish winter sports. Here in the heart of the city is the Stadium, which, in winter, is converted into a skating rink, while skating and curling rings are to be found in several of the parks and on many of the waterways that thread the city.

Within an hour’s journey is the famous ski-jumping course of Fiskatorpet and the ski runs, toboggan runs, and ski-jumping platform at the popular sporting and holiday resort Saltjöbaden, in the heart of the Stockholm Archipelago.

Skate sailing has been a popular pastime in Sweden for over a century. Two women take to the ice in a photo circa 1905–1915. Photo from Nordic Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Skate sailing has been a popular pastime in Sweden for over a century. Two women take to the ice in a photo circa 1905–1915. Photo from Nordic Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Vintage photo of ice-yachting in Sweden.
The ice-yachting season runs from late December to mid-March. Although today’s pros can reach up to 140 mph, no experience is necessary to participate. Photo by Harry Pot / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

About equal distance to the north of Stockholm is Djursholm, where the Stockholm Ice-Yachting Club and the Skate-Sailing Club have their headquarters. Djursholm is situated on a much indented and island-dotted bay of the Baltic, and here on the smooth ice the ice-yachts race at speeds frequently exceeding 45 knots.

In European countries the sport of ice-yachting, probably the most thrilling of all ice sports, is peculiar to Sweden, and the same may be said of skate-sailing. The latter calls for great skill and not a little daring. It is a sport that is irresistible to the expert skater. Here again, great speeds are attainable. Ice yachts may be hired, and the visitor will always find plenty of English-speaking Swedish winter sports experts willing to instruct and coach them in their tricky ways. 

Throughout Sweden, the hotels are up to the best European standard, and the Swedish cuisine is unexcelled. The country is easily reached in forty-two hours from London, either via the luxurious steamers of the Swedish Lloyd Line or overland via the Content and across the train ferry from Sassnitz (Germany) to Trälleborg (Sweden).

Hero photo: Courtesy of Maud Tarras Wahlberg

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