After Ski, Good Food & Off Piste Adventures
Lunch plays an important part in a day out skiing, it’s a perfect time to regroup, warm up cold hands and discuss the best slopes or runs of the day so far. We decided ahead of time to meet at Buustamons Fjällgård, a restaurant in the slopes with a Swedish rustic type vibe and lunches that enthusiastically fill the gaping hole in our stomachs after spending a few hours on the slopes.
While tucking into the lunch of typical Swedish dishes (I revel in homemade meatballs from moose and lingonberry jam), the guides från Åreguiderna for our off piste tour arrive. We wolf down the last bites and take the gondola to the summit of Åreskutan and the cabin with its “1420 masl” sign. The guide points out that this means we are 1420 meters above sea level and the view backs up this theory. I snap the quintessential winter selfies, making sure to catch the “1420 masl” sign in the background and one more, with the Norwegian tops in the far distance. I hurriedly put my phone away as the guides peel off into the powder snow along the “Apple Orchid” route, one of the better powder areas that leads towards Björnen. It feels like one of the longer and gentler of the three off-piste runs we end up doing for the day, but has an equal amount of euphoria that surges through my burning thighs and tingling spine, pure magical. We head up again to the summit and the guides lead us through one of the well known ravines, before we head up for the last of the off piste runs that lead us to the evening’s activity, at the famed hotel Fjällgården.
Shaky thighs and beating hearts, we thank our guides and turn towards the hotel. We haven’t even entered the doors and the thumping beats from the after ski start revving up our tiring bodies. Very quickly the cold is forgotten and the temperatures rise from the euphoric skiers belting out the popular cover tunes lead by the energetic band on the stage. As the sweat starts building up I realise that everyone wearing woollen thermals perhaps share the same regret in their decision to party dressed like this. After ski like this can only be found in Sweden, that’s for sure. After an hours boot dancing our group exchange a few knowing glances and hand signals before deciding to beat a retreat to the village for a more sedate dinner at Villa Tottebo in the village of Åre. On the way over there we spot the lights coming from the snowcats lining the hills with the “corduroy” shape pattern. They are slowly grooming and manicuring the ski slope with the precision of skilled jewelers. It is all dark out and cold while those twinkling lights on the mountainside are paving and shaping the way to gravity-fed happiness.
Start the Day Skiing “8 by the 8”
My alarm blasts me awake the next morning. Bleary eyed I peek outside my window to the crispy morning landscape and the thermometer glares “-9” at me. I involuntarily shiver, I blame it on my thighs feeling a bit stiff from yesterday as I know I will be more than warm enough this morning. The reason for my early start is that a ski holiday in Åre is not complete without one morning “8 by the 8”. This is skiing on the VM8 Alpine World Cup ski lift and slope that opens at 8 am for the early risers. Those who want to have a first go at the “corduroy”. The bustle by the lift station is a clear indication that it’s apparently quite popular, not just for the tourists but mainly by the many local Åre residents who choose to start their days with an early morning ski. The rush is reminiscent of morning traffic as the skiers try to cram in as many runs as possible before the early morning coffee stop, which I duly partake in at the Åre Ski Inn. I munch on a freshly baked cinnamon bun and contemplate the rest of the day’s skiing, which eventually takes place in the refreshing early spring sunshine in the slopes around Stendalen, Tväråvalvet and Tusenmetern.