Tour Skating In Sweden

Storsjön In Winter -Xmas 07  

Back to an outdoor related topic. But this one might be new to most people reading…

We had a shorter than planned stay in Sweden over the Xmas holiday but whilst we were there I had my second try at Tour Skating (Långfärdsskridskoåkning).

It’s ice skating using big skates on natural lakes and covering quite long distances. If you can skate even reasonably well then 30 or 40 kilometre trips are easily doable, but double or even treble that distance is mentioned. Unfortunately I can’t skate very well at all and the ice thickness was marginal so we stuck very close to the Sommarstuga (Summer Cottage).

What made me think it was particularly worth a mention was that, rather like winter mountaineering and walking, there are changes afoot in the gear.

Tour Skate 1 Small Up until recently you’ve needed a pair of specialist boots that clip or slot in to the bindings on a pair of touring skates. But now with a simple addition to the front binding along with a back binding just like that on a snowboard, they can be fitted to standard walking boot.

You can see the additional part in the picture. It is the top section with the grey EVA padding to hold the toe in place. Standard skate boots clip under the two black prongs that you see low down against the toe, stopping side to side movement.

Tour Skate 3 Small I used them with just a pair of Montrail Stratos XCR (pictured). Although as a novice I could probably have benefited from stiffer boots I could still get about on them and they had no problem staying in place in the skates.

Even when I fell over and put a dustbin-lid sized set of cracks in the ice with one elbow.Which certainly added some extra excitement to the day.

Might have to get some elbow pads for next year.

Tour Skate 2 Small It’s tempted me into buying a pair since it made more sense than buying specialist boots and borrowing a spare set of skates (borrowing footwear is tricky with my size eleven and a half feet).

The simplicity of them appealed very much.

The other essentials are things called Isdubbar (which I notice the Wikipedia article has as “Ice Claws”) and throw line.

These are for emergency use, should you manage to elbow your way right through the ice.

Imagine floating in a hole in the ice, and trying to claw your way out back on to it. Pretty tricky eh? But using the Isdubbar that you cunningly hung around your neck, you take one in each hand and jam one spike into the ice and pull yourself up a bit. Stick the next one in a little higher and slowly hand-over-hand your way to safety. The throw line is a little more self explanatory and is simply thrown to you by a friend who pulls on the other end – just the same as in kayaking.

Things much like ski or walking poles are usually taken but these are more like James Bond’s ski poles. Instead of a hard, blunt tip these things have a shiny metal spear that’s enough to despatch any henchman with ease. They’re used partly for balance and propulsion and partly to check the quality and thickness of the ice ahead of you.

Finally you make sure you have a change of warm dry clothing in a properly waterproof bag inside a rucksack. This is partly to act as a float if you fall through (hopefully a rare event). So the specialist skating sacks have groin straps to prevent them floating up from your back. And partly it’s to give you something warm to change into pretty sharpish!


5 Replies to “Tour Skating In Sweden”

  1. That’s interesting. It’s amazing how foreign the kit from something you know nothing about seems when you look at it.

    The skatings sound like a blast.

  2. There are several companies now selling skates
    with the “universal binding”, example Multi-skates
    from Lundhags and Easy-gliders from Zandstra:

    In Swedish skating groups, it is common for the tour leader
    to carry a skate with a universal binding as a emergency skate
    for anyone who breaks/looses a skate.

    Also, there are “do-it-yourself” (DIY) skaters in Sweden
    who make their own bindings for lightweight trail-running shoes
    with a free-heel or “glapp” system. The best known is
    Bo Gustavsson:

  3. Wow that sounds like the most amazing fun! I discovered my love of iceskating over christmas this year, and think that doing it on an actual lake sounds absolutely brilliant! If a little scary.

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