|ESPN.com: Freeskiing||[Print without images]|
|Reine Barkered finding his way down during the Freeride World Tour finale in Verbier, Switzerland.|
For the past few years, Reine Barkered, an unassuming 29-year-old from Åre, Sweden, has quietly been climbing the ranks of the Freeride World Tour, coming within one run of winning the world title, twice. Although sometimes overshadowed by his countrymen Henrik Windstedt, Kaj Zackrisson and Sverre Lillequist, many consider Barkered one of the best big-mountain skiers out there. I caught up with Barkered recently to talk about his new ski sponsor, the mental game of competing, and why Sweden -- a country with few legitimate mountains -- produces so many talented big-mountain skiers.
You just signed with Dynastar. How'd that all come about?
I skied on Dynastar in 2009 and as everybody knows, the market went bananas that year. After the financial crisis, Dynastar is back on track and luckily they still had their eyes on me. When the time came we had a couple of discussions and my choice finally landed on Dynastar. Happy to be on board.
Sweden isn't really known for its big mountains, or any mountains for that matter. How'd you get into big-mountain skiing?
Everybody skies here, so that part comes naturally. The step over to big mountain is, for most people, a jump from alpine skiing and is some cases moguls. Sweden has some big names that got going early and they have worked as an inspiration for the rest of us.
|Sweden's Reine Barkered.|
Why do you think Sweden produces so many top-notch skiers?
I guess for the same reason that the East Coast [produces so many good] skiers in the U.S., we are used to skiing in "crappy" conditions. A day where skis actually leave tracks, we consider to be a great day.
Two times you've been a run away from winning the overall Freeride World Tour, in 2009 and 2011, and have come up short. Has that been incredibly frustrating or has that just motivated you more?
I would say it has motivated me more. I don't really get bummed when I don't win. I don't see how that would help me. But still, of course, I want to win.
Does it mess with your head when you're at the top of the venue and people take serious, life-threatening falls ahead of you?
It doesn't leave me unaffected. I usually stay with my plan, but on occasion it has changed [my plan]. I always have backup options if the feeling is bad.
You're from the same general area as Henrik Windstedt. Is there a rivalry between you two?
I would say that we have less of a rivalry now, not that it was much in the beginning. I think that both of us are thinking that if I don't make it, we are glad to see the other one make it. But Henrik gets more bummed than I do when I beat him than the other way around. [Laughing.]
What Scandinavian up-and-comers should we keep our eye on?
New on this year's tour is another guy from my and Henrik's hometown of Åre. Erik Sunnerheim, AKA the Demon. He's the best skier I have ever met when you are freesking and he has a lot to offer on contests too. Also, guys like Wille Lindberg and Adam Widén as well as some young guns -- Rasmus Andersson and Erik Sundström.
Any ski plans for the summer?
I had some plans in motion but they might not happen so I'm going surfing instead -- starting in California.