Typically Swedish

The ‘spark’, a unique means of transport in the North

Heidi is using a spark on the ice in Västerbotten, Sweden.

There are a few modes of transportation in Sweden that intrigue me. For example, in Kiruna I saw snowmobiles on the driveway during the summer months, side by side with the cars. These cars were often large pickups and even more often those cars had large headlights at the front. I was told that this was due to crossing wildlife. I find the spark equally intriguing, it’s a kick sledge that you can push along.

My first introduction to the spark was in Finland. When I went skating there, there were also a few sparks. It took me a while to get the hang of it. The following year I spent the winter months in Östersund, about 500 km above Stockholm. I was waddling like a penguin (that’s really the technique!) to avoid losing my balance on the slippery roads when a lady of a respectable age passed me briskly and quickly with her spark.

Fun fact: with a spark you are considered a pedestrian in Sweden. You must keep to the left of the road.


More than a toy

It soon dawned on me that a spark is not only a ‘toy’ for the ice, but is also often used in daily life in wintry Sweden. Riding a bicycle in the snow is not very convenient, but a spark is! And it seemed also easy to carry your groceries.

Fun fact: a type of bicycle shed for sparks is called a ‘sparkering’. That made me laugh out loud.

A sparkering is a parking space for sparks, a special means of transport from the north that is a cross between a sled and a step.

The spark (also sometimes called sparkstötting) has been around since the 18th century. The spark rests on 2 (steel) glides. The seat and handhold are usually made of wood. The glides also extend further beyond the seating area so that you can stand on them to step. You stand on one of those slides and push off with your other foot. On ice/thick snow you can reach up to 20 km/h!

Spark bij zonsondergang

Snow/ice step

You could also borrow sparks when I went skating in Tavelsjön and they were available on the ice track in Luleå as well. You place your foot on 1 iron and ‘kick’ (att sparka= kick) with your other foot. A bit like you do with a scooter. After a few ‘kicks’ you can switch feet or let yourself slide forward a bit.

You know, I secretly dream of a second stay in Sweden, one day. And then I want a spark myself. Would look nice in my Swedish cabin, right? Have you ever tested a spark?

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