Is Swedish ice skating for you?

People practice the normal sports in Sweden — soccer, basketball, running, swimming — but there are a few Swedish sports you may have never heard of. I’m guessing that tour skating is one of them.

Tour skating was once one of the most popular sports in Sweden, and I hear it’s now making somewhat of a comeback. It’s done on natural ice with long ice skates attached to boots. Many people also use poles. Imagine a blend of cross-country skiing and ice skating.

This winter in Sweden the temperature has practically been below freezing since December. The tour skating afficionados say the ice conditions are superb.

Every year I promise myself that I’ll try tour skating, and every year I bail out. This year is no different, but I thought if I made the promise to do it here that it would give me extra motivation. I recently went out with my family to Lake Mälaren just outside of Stockholm to check out the scene. (As of publishing, I still haven’t tried it myself.)

Lake Mälaren is a beast of a lake. It’s Sweden’s third largest lake that stretches from the middle of the country out east into the Baltic Sea.

For beginners, there are a number of good tour guides that will take you out and teach you this fun and challenging winter sport:

Ice Guide

Nature Travels

The Stockholm Ice Skate Sailing and Touring Club

The ultimate sled workout

Less than a week away from the winter solstice, and it’s hard to imagine the days getting shorter here in Sweden. The sun rose today at 8:39 am and set at 2:47 pm. It’s dark and cold, but never fear, the Swedes have many solutions for this time of year. In playgrounds they put up special sleds for kids to play with, and for parents to push.

The tobacco castle

The palace of Ljunglöfska is a magical building in our neighborhood

It’s minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) today. Double layers of clothing have been replaced by triple. The air stings the skin, and the lake by our house is beginning to freeze over. The sun rose at 8:16 in Stockholm today; if all goes as planned, it will set at 2:57 this afternoon. Despite the darkness, I’ve loved this winter so far.

This is a picture of Ljunglöfska Slottet, a fantastic building built by Sweden’s tobacco king, Knut Fredrik Ljunglöf. It’s surrounded by a nature reserve and lake Mälaren.

And rumor has it, this is where Sweden’s Christmas Calender was filmed this year. As Jennie from the Transparent Language Swedish blog explains, The Swedish Christmas Calendar is an annual tradition that starts December 1. Swedish kids count down the days to Christmas, just like Advent, but with the help and entertainment of a TV show. Each day kids follow along, open another window to their Advent calendar, and find a treat behind it.