If you follow the Swedish cross-country couple Anna Haag and Emil Jönsson in social media, you will have seen that for the past week they swapped their skinny skies for much heavier gear.

As part of the slope crew at Åre 2018, they have been working hard on the slopes, fixing nets, helping with injection and slipping the course! We had a chance to ask Anna and Emil about their experience:

Did you have any idea of the work that goes into preparing the slope for prime time in competition?

– We’re impressed by the huge efforts that all the volunteers are putting in, so that we can have a race or do a couple of training runs. It can be days, weeks, even years in some cases that they invest. We have not truly been able to comprehend it all. But we’ve also seen that those who volunteer for races have a similar sense of community as we who are racing, which is amazing, said Anna Haag.

– It is also enormous to see how everyone working together can create something big and even the smallest of jobs are important and meaningful in the end, how everyone contributes!

What were most fun and toughest jobs during your days as volunteer?

– I probably had the most appreciated and fun job on Sunday when the sun was shining and I had my backpack full of chocolate and juice as I skied the slopes to distribute something to eat and drink to everyone working. It is wonderful how so little can mean so much, said Anna.

– Emil absolutely LOVED fixing the nets, she continued, but even he thought that it was the hardest job. I also thought that it was great fun to slip the courses but that’s also physically exhausting, in a nice way.

Applications to volunteer at Åre 2019 are still being accepted, in case anyone is wondering.

What would be your recommendation for anyone considering it?

– Go for it!! It can at times be hard work, but it’s also a great community and much joy, and you really get the feeling of contributing to something. You will meet many new people you’d never meet otherwise and be outside, sometimes in beautiful sunshine and in other times in less great weather. But you will always fall asleep with a smile on your face knowing that you have been helping out, explained Anna.

– And you get a great workout, which is surely a plus for those who sit at a desk all day otherwise, added Emil.

Typically we see Anna and Emil out and about on cross-country skis. Indeed they have now left Åre to travel to the FIS Cross-Country World Cup Finals in Falun this weekend.

We do wonder how solid you are on alpine skis?

– We are definitely better on the skinny skis, but also enjoy alpine skiing and love the feeling of speed! We just wish we had more time for downhill skiing, the couple said.

“Inspire the world to ski” is the vision of Åre 2019, how do you help to contribute to that?

– By talking about the joy and community we gain through skiing. And by showing the public how great skiing is, especially in the spring when it is no longer just about competition and training but about enjoying life!

We wish Anna and Emil best of luck in Falun, and hope they will keep thinking of our wonderful volunteers who will still be working the slopes here in Åre, making sure that the racers enjoy great conditions!

And we hope to see Anna and Emil return to help us next year at the World Championships!