My first memory is being in a backpack as my Dad skied down a mountain. I’m tired of the alpine skiing – too serious to have no purchase, then we walk down the hillside, through the forest, on the cliff. This is definitely more interesting. My first championship run was in California, but it ended up with catastrophic when I was trapped in the tree about five seconds later. However, I managed to get better and win the World Tour title Verbier a few years later.
Jämtland region has its own character and even language, Jämtlisch. We’re close to Norway and get a lot of our influences from there. Everyone here is outdoorsy, interested not so much in money as in their lifestyle and how to fulfil it. People will ski during their lunch break: the whole place is allergic to the nine-to-five mentality.
In Jämtland, the wilderness is massive, with a lot of space to explore. It’s easy to live off-grid for a while if you want. The fishing is great and there are plenty of places no one has ever fished before. In summer, I love mountain-biking the trails that I ski in winter. Many of those paths through the forest are hundreds of years old. I especially love the Gåsån trail, a 30km route near Åre, my home town. It’s just beautiful – and not too difficult or steep. We also have great waterfalls, such as Tännforsen, and lakes such as Blanktjärn – superb spots for picnics. My favourite mountain lodges, in either summer or winter, are Storulvån, Sylarna and Blåhammaren. The latter is particularly good: it’s the highest lodge in Sweden, with a great sauna and good food.
To be a Jämte means not showing off, and not showing emotion – unless it’s grumpiness. No, I’m kidding, but it’s true that Jämte characters don’t like pretence and are happy with stillness and quiet, out there in the wilderness. I always love to come home. Surfing in Bali I felt homesick for Jämtland.
A favourite childhood dish was falukorv (smoked sausage) with mashed potato. The standard of food is generally excellent in Jämtland. People fish and hunt a lot, so there’s moose, salmon, trout and arctic char. At lunchtimes I like Lounge, an eco-cafe near the station in, Åre. They use a lot of supermarket stuff that is close to its sell-by date. For a splurge, I’d hit Vinbaren in Hotel Åregarden.
Åre is good fun later in the evening, too. The Supper Åre bar and restaurant does excellent cocktails and Bygget is the nightclub for parties. I love to ski to Tväråkåtan, where there’s a laid-back cafe in a Sami tipi, accessible also by ski lift. We go there for fika, which means coffee and pastries but carries a whole idea of cosiness and companionship, too. The highest cafe in the area is Toppstugan, at 1,420 metres. It can be reached on the cable car and has 360-degree views from the top of Mount Åreskutan. I’ll go there for a coffee then head down to Mårtens Brant or Östra Ravin, off-piste areas only for experienced skiers with avalanche training!
I have never been seriously hurt while freeriding – just a chipped tooth once. The trick is to know when you’re falling, take that split-second decision, and then fall well. No arms out, keep compact, protect your face and wear a helmet. If you’re a beginner, my advice is to get a personal instructor: you will learn more in a week than you could in two years of group lessons.