The skiing in Are, Sweden is spread along a wall of hills that lines the northern shore of Lake Aresjon. It’s split into two main sectors – above the town of Are itself, and above the village of Duved, six miles west. Most of it is below the treeline – and several sectors are floodlit for night-skiing.
By Alpine standards it’s not enormous – offering 100km of pistes versus 300km in the Expace Killy (home of Val d’Isere and Tignes) and 600km in the Three Valleys (Meribel etc). The local terrain is more muted too: it feels like you’re skiing on a series of very big hills, rather than proper mountains.
But that’s not to say this is an underwhelming ski area. The resort hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships in 2007, and it’s home to some cracking pistes. The feeling of being on the edge of a socking great wilderness compensates for the lack of spikey Alpine scenery, too. Here’s who we think will get the best of it:
Intermediates skiers will love the sense of space
One thing that will strike piste skiers immediately is how uncrowded the slopes are. Okay, so during Swedish school holidays and at the weekend, a couple of areas do get busy. But still it’s nothing compared with the crowds you’ll find in the Alps or in Whistler.
We last skied here midweek in early February. Quite often, we were the only people on a given run – especially once we got over to the Duved sector. It’s a bit like having your own private ski resort.
The best pistes are the reds and the black immediately under the VM8 chair, just outside the town centre – and as a general rule we’d say the pistes are on the steepish side, given their grading. But there are some good cruisey blues about too – and combined with the relaxed atmosphere, and sense of space, we can understand why many of our fellow Brits seem to enjoy skiing here so much.
Beginners get a sector more or less to themselves
The one drawback for beginners is the fact that they need to ride the bus/taxi to get to the beginner’s area. It’s in a place called Rodkullen, off to one side of the two main hubs of lifts and pistes above Are – and no beginner should try to ski there until the end of their holiday. Once installed, however, first-timers usually make swift progress, thanks to the upbeat, English-speaking instructors, the gentle pistes and the lack of crowds.
There’s a decent terrain park too
There’s a strong tradition of freestyle skiing and snowboarding here – and the main park, not far from the VM8 chair-lift, is well-maintained. If you’re really serious about your jibs and tricks then somewhere like Laax, Breckenridge or Whistler will suit you better. But if want to practice somewhere quiet before you launch yourself onto the scene – where you don’t have to queue to use the half-pipe – then Are, Sweden is a good option. Bear in mind the ski school’s half-day, Park & Pipe courses, too.
Real experts will wish they were in the Alps
The resort is full of really good skiers, who get off-piste whenever they can – off the backside of the 1420m peak of Areskutan, which towers over the resort, and through secret tree runs dotted throughout the ski area (the powder lasts longest in the trees under Tegefjall, the quietest part of the ski area). What’s more, the ski school runs a range of inexpensive half-day courses to help you get the most from the off-piste too.