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by | Apr 18, 2019 | 0 comments

Last month we had a chat with Sofie Gidlund, upcoming big mountain talent and the future of Swedish freeriding. To understand how she can manage to ski all day, every day and still study a bachelor in eco-entrepreneurship for sustainable developmentin Sustainability oriented entrepreneurship.

Hi Sofie, how are you?

Hello Rickard, everything feels super right now. It’s my favorite season of the year right now! When winter turns into spring. You know when temperatures still are below zero up in the mountains so you still can ski, and down in the valley you get a tan at the après haha. The best combo according to me.

Can you tell me where you are right now?

Right now I’m actually on my balcony in Verbier, Switzerland where I’ve spent my season since December. It’s really warm, sun is shining and birds are singing. We have the best view with the Mont Blanc massif right in front of us.

So the winter season in the alps is coming to its end, how are the conditions?

Yes, last couple of days has been really warm. During the season it’s been a lot of changing weather actually. But overall a really good season with lots of snow. We got a refill with some more white gold last week so the conditions have been super for a very long time now. But now you have to do a bit of hiking/touring to find the goodies. Verbier is really fun during spring as well. For example, we spend a lot of time in the park trying to learn tricks and yesterday we tried some snowboarding.

”…the conditions have been super for a very long time now..”

You have been competing quite a lot this year, can you tell me about the FWQ?

Sure, FWQ stands for the Freeride World Qualifier. It’s a series of competitions during the season where you collect points to a ranking system that can qualify you to the big scene – Freeride world Tour, where some of the world’s best big mountain skiers and snowboarders compete against each other to become overall world champions. The tour is divided into two regions; America and Europe/Oceania and includes 2*, 3* and 4* comps, where 4* gives the most points.

”…you collect points to a ranking system that can qualify you to the big scene – the Freeride world Tour…”

How come you started to compete in freeriding?

I’m a retired alpine skier, who tried my big mountain wings in Swedish competitions such as NM and Ride the Cow. The happiness and joy that came along with this new thing was enough for me to try out the FWQ-series as well. Therefore, my first FWQ-season went down last year and it was great. Competitive freeriding is amazing, I never feel as free as when the starter says 3,2,1, DROP IN, then it’s just me and the mountain. It’s challenging in a sometimes scary and exciting way. The vibe on comps and all the great people you meet is reason enough by itself to actually try freeriding comps. The big group of riders are just like a big family.

Sofie has been competing on the Freeride Qualifier Tour this winter.

How did it go for you?

This season hasn’t been the best for me so far. I managed to grab a 3rdplace at a 4* event in September. So my points have been good enough to compete at all the 4* events this season. Unfortunately, I’ve crashed a lot and been struggling a bit with my mindset. On the other hand, I’ve learned A LOT about myself and my skiing so the results doesn’t matter that much in the end. I’m skiing for myself and when I’m feeling good and having fun the results will come as well. Last season I didn’t really know what I wanted with freeriding, now I know. I want to develop, be scared (in a good way), try new things and ski so much I can. When I’m ready I want to qualify for the world tour.

How do you get around between the competitions?

Usually we’re driving by car. Often together with friends or other riders, with other words not so much space left haha. To some comps we’ve been thinking about taking the train, it’s not the easiest thing when you’re going to some of the smallest and most distant ski-resorts in the alps. I’m super keen on trying to commute more sustainable next season. I think it’s possible with some planning and many ski resorts want to develop their public transport system.

Car Tetris – an essential skill for competitors on the FWQ tour.

So tell me a bit about your studies? It sounds super interesting!
I’m studying a bachelor program that’s called Eco-entrepreneur for sustainable development. All my lectures are on distance and I can write exams wherever I want, as long as there’s an authorized invigilator present. During autumn I’ve been studying 100% and in the winter, I stepped down to a 50% phase. Thanks to all help from Mittuniversitet, Östersund I can follow both my dreams at the same time.
How do you stay motivated to study when you have snowy mountains just outside the door?

It’s easy (ok, maybe not if it’s been dumping 1 meter of pow). I’m studying something that’s really important to me and then it’s quite simple to find the time to do it. In the future we won’t have those snowy mountains just outside our doors if we don’t start to act now. That’s the biggest motivation, develop new ideas and thoughts that can help save our planet and precious winters.

What does sustainability mean to you as a semi-professional skier?

It means a lot to me. In our society today, especially in rich countries, we’ve developed this lifestyle where we use a huge amount of resources, kindly provided to us by mother nature. The effect on our planet is disastrous. One very present effect is warmer and unstable temperatures and weather, which really affect us as snow sport athletes. But our problem is small compared to the drought and famines happening in other parts of the world due to the warmer climate caused by human activities. In addition to my education I really want to talk about the problem, spread the message and hopefully inspire people to act. It’s important to know that the smallest of actions can make the biggest of changes. We need to start thinking outside the box and get rid of old structures and beliefs. Nothing lasts forever.

”…we use a huge amount of resources, kindly provided to us by mother nature…”

Eat greener. A simple way of decreasing your climate impact. 

Do you have any tips on how we as skiers and snowboarders can decrease our negative climate impact?

Sometimes it’s hard to balance such a luxurious activity with sustainability. Skiing and snowboarding are often something that we take for granted. We should all be more grateful and appreciate the nature that we are so blessed to get access to. We need to respect all our nature in a greater way. Two easy things one can do for a more sustainable living are simply to eat less animal based products and take the train or share a car instead of flying. As a skier or snowboarder we can be responsible consumers and take action against unsustainable companies, ski resorts or restaurants. One example of that is that many restaurants in ski-resorts doesn’t have regular tap water if you ask, you can only buy water in a plastic bottle. That’s crazy, take action, send a message to the owner or ski-resort and complain. The power of the consumer is bigger than we think!

Be humble towards nature and the beauty it provides.

”We should all be more grateful and appreciate the nature that we are so blessed to get access to.”

What are your plans for the rest of the season?
I’m leaving Verbier tomorrow and driving back to Sweden. First stop is Åre, more spring skiing and Åre ski finals. After that I’m travelling home to Riksgränsen and the north, I’ll be competing at The Scandinavian Big Mountains Championshipand enjoy last time of the winter season with some homebound ski-touring.  
How will you prepare for next season?
 When all the snow is gone in Riksgränsen I’ll change my ski clothes to a work uniform. Summer will be spent working in the iron mine, mixed with both physical and mental training. When the work season is over I want to go skiing before school starts again. During autumn I’ll mix my studies with more physical and mental training, so both body and mind are ready for another winter.

Make sure to check out the Redbull’s episode of Hungry Swede’s featuring Sofie and her friend Moa Wärvik. Also, check out her snow packed instagram feed @sofiegidlund.