Paragliding in Åre (March)

He had just taken off, yet he was suspiciously close to the ground. Looking to his left, the mountainside was moving fast upwards relative to him.

This was sinking air, no question about it. He was already below the ridge he needed to clear to get to the landing area.

Turning a bit to the right, he flew over a ski lift. Right in front of him was another one, at the bottom of it was a big flat snowfield. He quickly decided that was where he was going to land.

As he came down a bit closer he could see a flag he could use to estimate wind direction. The landing was spot on.

Looking 90 degrees to his left he could see the other glider circling around the same spot as him. As the other glider turned a bit more, so did he to prevent it from coming up behind him. It was better to try and keep the same distance all the time and use each other to determine where the most lifting air was.

Suddenly the other glider surged upwards, that was where the center of the thermal was. 180 degrees later in the turn, when he came to the same spot in the air, his own glider surged upwards. He tried to flatten out the turn a bit, as to get more wing area lifting up whilst in the lift.

The other glider was now a bit higher than him, still 180 degrees to his left. They continued their game, trying to find the best spot to go upwards.

This was my first time flying since December. Did some dry runs, or fake starts, before getting airborne. I still don’t have enough flights for my certification, so I’ll have to fly supervised by an instructor for now. It’s not a lot of flights left though, soon I’ll be able to go on my own whenever I want. That’s where the real journey starts.

The certification is mostly basic security training, so it’s when you can get out there on your own that you can start learning how to ride thermals and winds.

Also I’ll be able to hike up pretty much any mountain and fly down, can’t wait to get my hands on my own glider.

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Skiing in Åre (March)

The wind gusts were tugging strongly at the skis strapped to his backpack. He wasn’t going to fall because of the wind, but it made the ascent a bit more tricky. To his left one of his companions had started walking on an area with less snow. He made for the same area as well. The deeper powder wasn’t hard walking in, but it was always a good idea to try and save the leg for the downhill later.

He stopped to take a breath, walking uphill would still make you breath hard. Further ahead both of his companions had stopped to take the skis of their backpacks. All in all there were four of them, two guys named Axel. That was the two that had stopped just ahead. He, Emil, and behind him was another guy called Marcus.

Eventually they all had their skis back on and were ready for the downhill. Axel and Axel went ahead into the snowy forest with shouts of joy. Emil stopped for a moment, he looked over at Marcus. He could see the same kid of thrilled excitement in Markus that he felt himself.

“Wow, this is steep.” they both said, overlapping each others words.

To distract himself from the steepness Emil took out his mobile phone and snapped some pictures of Marcus.

Then, they too, went into the forest.

This was by far the best day of the season (so far). The amount of snow hasn’t been optimal, but two weeks ago it started dumping. Because of wind, already made tracks has been swept away, and as long as you new where to look it is possible to find fresh powder.

It’s not free however, we did one run where we had to walk for some 20 minutes with climbing skins on our skis, and then this run where we strapped the skis to our backpacks for 10 minutes. We also found some shorter runs by going alongside the mountain for a bit.

A lot of the runs where quite steep. Adding the trees, I wasn’t fully able to link my turns. It didn’t give me the “flowing motion” you usually want when skiing and because of this I also got tired in my legs quite fast.

It was a fun day nonetheless, and I was super happy to ski in some challenging terrain with my telemark skis.

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Skiing in Åre (January)

Suddenly a familiar voice shouted his name. He didn’t have time to turn around before he was in a friendly embrace.

The guy who had embraced him, Jalle, was quite short but full of energy. He quickly presented one of the other ski guides that Emil had not met before.

“We’re doing some off piste skiing, lets go!” Jalle said, and then the three of them where on the move. Up the chairlift and into the forest they went.

A chutelike formation between some trees still had some fresh snow left, that’s where they skied down.

“We’ve found a double drop on a line just beside that one.” Jalle exclaimed when they where back out in the groomed run.

When they returned into the forest and came to the drop Emil hesitated. He wasn’t too used to do drops. On the other hand he had done bigger ones than this.

“Well, the snow is soft and fluffy all around.” He said to himself, then he skied for the drop.

“Poof” The landing was soft. He landed with quite a lot of control and continued down to where the others where. Somehow, he managed to miss the second drop, with the first being so anticlimactic, he wished he had done that too.

“So, I missed the second drop, where is it?” He asked the two ski guides.

It’s good to have friends that push your limits in this way. I personally want to go more off piste, and do more drops. Since I’m working as a ski instructor I’m super comfortable in the groomed runs, but getting out there on the really big mountains is a challenge in its own.

It’s hard to motivate yourself on your own though. Pushing hard like this is both fun and a learning experience, but I think you need friends who are more skilled than you to do it.

This is also something I do as a ski instructor, sometimes a customer might not have skied intermediate runs, so I take them to intermediate runs. We can go slowly down, with me skiing just ahead of them as an extra security. Afterwards the easy runs will feel super easy, simply because of a confidence boost.

My point is, that improving on you skills might sometimes not involve a lot of study or training, but rather just to try something much harder and push your limits a little.

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