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Between the Lines

Swedish Lapland provides just the right type of adventure for all-female trio of athletes looking for far more than big mountain glory. Photos by Mattias Fredriksson

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Between the Lines

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Photographer Mattias Fredriksson has been on dozens of film shoots with ski athletes from all around the world. But he knew that this trip, to his native Sweden during the filming of the all-female ski movie Between, would be different. “With the guys, many times it becomes a competition of the raddest lines and the coolest jumps,” Fredriksson explains. “The girls were so kind and supportive of each other.” Between is the third installment in a series from filmmaker Sandra Lahnsteiner, an Austrian pro skier who’s also in the movie. It focuses on the moments between the action scenes—the camaraderie, solitude, and sheer determination that go into bringing a ski film to the screen. The athletes—U.S. Ski Teamer Julia Mancuso, New Zealand freestyle skier Janina Kuzma, and the late freeskier Matilda Rapaport from Sweden (see next photo)—were filmed in Alaska and Hawaii in addition to Swedish Lapland’s Abisko National Park. Here, in the following pages, are the sweet, funny, irreverent, and exhilarating moments Fredriksson snapped during the filming.

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“Matilda was such an amazing person, always happy and with such a positive attitude,” says Fredriksson, who first met her in 2010. “She never took things for granted; she was grateful for all the opportunities that came her way.” Rapaport died in an avalanche while filming in Chile in July 2016. She was 30 years old.”

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Athlete and filmmaker Sandra Lahnsteiner shares a blissful moment with the pups after mushing with Kiruna Sled Dogs; mushing is common in Sweden, and Lahnsteiner wanted the women to experience it firsthand.

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Lahnsteiner pauses atop the vast peaks in Abisko National Park, which lies in a sparsely populated region 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is home to some of the best ski touring in the country.

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Rapaport devours the late-May corn snow; thanks to a heat wave before they arrived, combined with local microstorms, conditions toggled between perfect corn and legit powder, says Fredriksson. The highest peaks in Abisko rise to about 7,000 feet.

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“The sun doesn’t set this time of year,” says Fredriksson. “It just dips behind the mountains.” From a photographer’s standpoint, the resulting pink-orange-purple light serves up an amazing opportunity for truly unique images. “Sweden isn’t known for being dramatic, but in these moments it could be mistaken for big-mountain Alaska.”

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Rapaport, Mancuso, and Lahnsteiner starting off with a selfie.

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Mancuso follows the pack.

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Although the touring in the region is exceptional, heli skiing is a more efficient way to cover Abisko’s breadth.

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The athletes spent a day on a frozen lake with local fishing guide Roger Marklund, though none of them caught anything. Moments like these are just what Lahnsteiner was going for. “She planned down days so the girls could experience the local culture,” says Fredriksson. “It was nice to do something real, not just sit in the lodge.”

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Mancuso takes advantage of a bluebird day to make some turns in Abisko’s remote peaks. The park is in Swedish Lapland and home to the indigenous Sami people. Visitors come for the aurora borealis between November and March, and to experience the midnight sun from late May to July.