Jørgen Aukland, Norway, winning the 2013 men's event
|Date(s)||First Sunday in March|
|Budget||SEK 120 million (2012)|
Vasaloppet ((Swedish) for: "The Vasa Race") is an annual long distance cross-country ski race held on the first Sunday of March. The 90 km (56 mi) course starts in the village of Sälen and ends in the town of Mora in northwestern Dalarna, Sweden. It is the oldest and longest cross-country ski race in the world as well as the one with the highest number of participants.
The race was inspired by a notable journey made by King Gustav Vasa when he was fleeing from Christian II's soldiers in 1520. The modern competition started in 1922 and it has been a part of the Worldloppet events since 1978.
In 1520, the young nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa was fleeing from the troops of Christian II, king of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (the Kalmar Union). Much of the Swedish nobility was in opposition to the king, and had nicknamed him Christian the Tyrant. In a move to silence the opposition, Christian invited the Swedish aristocracy to a reconciliation party in Stockholm, only to have them, including Gustav's parents, massacred in what came to be known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.
Gustav fled through Dalarna, fearing for his life if he were discovered by the king's troops. He spoke to the men of Mora at a gathering and tried to convince them to raise a levy and start a rebellion against King Christian. The men refused to join the rebellion, and Gustav started out west, toward Norway to seek refuge. However, the men in Mora changed their minds after hearing that the Danish rulers had decided to raise taxes, and now they wanted to join the rebellion with Gustav as their leader. They sent out the two best skiers in the county, two brothers from Mora, Lars and Engelbrekt, to search for him and they caught up with him at Sälen. On 6 June 1523, Gustav Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, after having defeated the Danish king Christian and dissolved the Kalmar Union. Since that day, Sweden has been an independent nation.
Vasaloppet is the oldest and longest cross-country ski race in the world as well as the one with the highest number of participants. The idea for the race was published in Westmanlands Läns Tidning on 10 February 1922 by Anders Pers from Mora. On 5 March 1922, the board of IFK Mora decided to organize a trial race. News paper Dagens Nyheter sponsored the race with SEK 1,000 and with finances secured the first race was held on 19 March 1922. 136 participants registered for the race and 119 started. The winner was 22 year-old Ernst Alm from Norsjö Sports Club in 7:32:49. He is also the youngest ever winner of the race.
In the 80th race, held on 7 March 2004, about 15,500 skiers competed in the main event. More than 40,000 participated in one of the seven different races held during the first week of March. Vasaloppet is one of the races in the long distance cup Ski Classics.
When Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated just two days before the race in 1986, a cancellation of that year's race was considered. However, the race proceeded as planned with the 10,000 participants observing a moment of silence before the start.
Women winners in Vasaloppet have received awards since 1997. Before that, in 1922–23 and 1981–96, women were allowed to race, but did not receive awards. The first woman to participate was Margit Nordin from Grängesberg in 1923, at 10:09:42. Falu Kuriren wrote about the event: "... an incredible ovation greeted the only lady competitor, Miss Margit Nordin. Miss Nordin was lifted high on strong arms and she received flowers and cheers".
Through the years following the first race, there were many heated debates about women's participation. A majority of officials, mostly male, within sports organizations as well as in society in general, were opposed to women in the race. This led to women being banned from the race from 1924 until 1980. The ban was introduced because it was considered bad for women's health to participate in such a competition. The ban was criticized, especially after 1960. Some defended the ban saying that allowing women would diminish the race's reputation as a tough challenge. Several women did nevertheless participate during the ban, disguised as men. Two of the women who disguised themselves in 1978, Birgitta Westhed and Britt Dohsé, were assisted by professional make-up artist from the Gothenburg City Theatre, who changed their looks using wigs, moustache and a full beard.
The motto of Vasaloppet I fäders spår för framtids segrar ("In the track of our father for future victories") is written on a portal erected over the finish line in Mora. At the first race, the finish line was simply marked with white board between two flag poles with the word Mål ("Finish") on it. The second year a more stately portal with the motto was fashioned. In 1986, the portal was made permanent and has since become a significant landmark in Mora.
Kranskulla and kransmas
A tradition connected to the race is the custom to choose a kranskulla. This is a woman who is given the honor of hanging a laurel victory wreath abound the neck of the winner of the race as he cross the finish line. She is dressed in the traditional folk costume of Dalarna. With the event of the women's race, Tjejvasan in 1988, a male kransmas was also appointed. During the year they have been appointed for, the kranskulla and kransmas serve as ambassadors for the race.
The race is organized by the non-profit organization Vasaloppsföreningen Sälen-Mora that was registered with the [Swedish Companies Registration Office]] in 1992 and is owned by two local sports clubs, IFK Mora and Sälens IF. The organization has approximately 35 year-round employees who work with planning, preparing and developing the events.
Traditionally since 1958, blåbärssoppa ("bilberry soup") made by Ekströms food company, is served at the stations along the course. The Swedish word for bilberry, blåbär, literally means "blueberry", but the beverage is not made from the North American blueberry. About 50,000 liters is served during the Vasaloppet week. In addition, sports drinks and "Vasaloppet buns" are also served. Coffee is served at the Eldris station.
For a number of years, Ekströms had the logo for their blåbärssoppa printed on the number tags worn by the participants in the race. The word blåbär was printed in large bold letter, which resulted in the participants being called blåbär— a double meaning and pun since the word is also used to describe a "newbie", "rookie" or "probie".
- Berga by, 0 km (0 mi)
- Smågan, 11 km (6.8 mi)
- Mångsbodarna, 24 km (15 mi)
- Risberg, 35 km (22 mi)
- Evertsberg, 47 km (29 mi)
- Oxberg, 62 km (39 mi)
- Hökberg, 71 km (44 mi)
- Eldris, 81 km (50 mi)
- Mora, 90 km (56 mi)
The Rope, also referred to as "The Dreaded Rope", is a series of ropes drawn across the track at certain times to prevent participants, who have no chance of reaching the finish line in Mora before the area is closed, to continue. The ropes in Vasaloppet are drawn at seven of the stations: Smågan, Mångsbodarna, Risberg, Evertsberg, Oxberg, Hökberg and Eldris. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. and the finish area is closed at 8:15 p.m. just before the prize ceremony.
World cup race
Since 1978, Vasaloppet is included in the Worldloppet Ski Federation, a series of long-distance cross-country skiing races. In 2006, the Vasaloppet was included in the FIS Cross-Country World Cup; a large complement of World Cup racers joined the men's field for the full 90 km (56 mi) distance. Owing to the distance—40 km (25 mi) longer than the longest race usually skied in the World Cup—as well as the proximity to the just-concluded Olympic Games in Turin, the race was again dominated by long-distance specialists rather than World Cup racers. Daniel Tynell won the race, just ahead of Jerry Ahrlin, while Anders Aukland – who has skied on both the Norwegian national World Cup team and in marathons like the Vasaloppet – finished third. The women's World Cup Vasaloppet was held over 45 km (28 mi) the previous day, rather than being integrated with the full Vasaloppet. Marit Bjørgen from Norway won, though the field included only World Cup racers, since the marathon specialists chose to race in the full-distance event the next day.
The week preceding Vasaloppet is known as Vasaloppet week. Races held during this week include:
- Kortvasan (short – 30 km (19 mi))
- Tjejvasan (ladies – 30 km (19 mi))
- Halvvasan (half – 45 km (28 mi))
- Ungdomsvasan (9–16 years old – 3–9 km (1.9–5.6 mi))
- Öppet spår (non-competitive – 90 km (56 mi))
- Stafettvasan (relay – 90 km (56 mi))
- Skejtvasan (free technique – 30 km (19 mi)) 45 km (28 mi))
- Vasaloppet (original – 90 km (56 mi))
Nils 'Mora-Nisse' Karlsson has the most titles, with 9. Janne Stefansson (7), Jan Ottosson (4), Arthur Häggblad (4), Bengt Hassis (3), Oskar Svärd (3), Daniel Tynell (3) and Jörgen Brink (3) are the only other racers with more than two titles. Seven men have two titles.
Sofia Lind has the most titles, with 4. Four women have two titles.
The average winning time is 5:11:38 (a per-kilometer average of 3:28). The record winning time is 3:38:41 (2:26 per kilometer), set by Jörgen Brink of Sweden in 2012. Only ten winners have finished in less than four hours.
The ten fastest times include six Swedes, two Norwegians, and one Swiss; Oskar Svärd and Jörgen Brink, Sweden appear twice in the list of the ten fastest times. Of the ten fastest times, two occurred in the 1980s, two in the 1990s, four in the 2000s and two in the 2010s.
In 2012 course records were set for both men and women. Before that the fastest year was 1998, also with course records for both men and women.
Eleven fastest times
- 2012: Jörgen Brink (SWE) – 3:38:41
- 1998: Peter Göransson (SWE) – 3:38:57
- 2004: Anders Aukland (NOR) – 3:48:42
- 1986: Bengt Hassis (SWE) – 3:48:55
- 2013: Jørgen Aukland (NOR) – 3:50:49
- 2005: Oskar Svärd (SWE) – 3:51:47
- 2011: Jörgen Brink (SWE) – 3:51:51
- 1992: Jan Ottosson (SWE) – 3:57:04
- 1983: Konrad Hallenbarter (SUI) – 3:58:08
- 2003: Oskar Svärd (SWE) – 3:58:23
- 2002: Daniel Tynell (SWE) – 3:58:52
Average times per decade have declined in each ten-year span, with the sharpest drop between decade averages occurring in the 1960s, for which the average winning time was 31:45 faster than the average winning time of the 1950s. The average winning time in the 1970s was 16:07 faster than the 1960s, the 1980s average was 24:09 faster than the 1970s, and the 1990s average was 13:06 faster than the 1980s. The average winning time in the 2000s is only 2:18 faster than the 1990s, however. As of 2011 the average winning time so far in the 2010s is 12:12 faster than the 2000s.
Sweden is the most prolific producer of winners, with 74 titles (including two all-Sweden ties, in 1928 and 1988), or 90% of the 82 contested races. (The race was canceled in 1932, 1934, and 1990). Norway has produced five winners: Ole Ellefsæter, 1971; Anders Aukland, 2004; Jørgen Aukland, 2008 and 2013; John Kristian Dahl, 2014 and 2016; and Petter Eliassen, 2015. Two countries have produced two winners: Finland (Pekka Kuvaja, 1954; Pauli Siitonen, 1973) and Austria (Walter Mayer, 1980; Mikhail Botvinov, 1997). Five countries have produced one winner: East Germany (Gert-Dietmar Klause, 1975), the Soviet Union (Ivan Garanin, 1977), France (Jean-Paul Pierrat, 1978), Switzerland (Konrad Hallenbarter, 1983), and Estonia (Raul Olle, 2000).
Sweden won every race until 1954, when Pekka Kuvaja of Finland won the race. The next non-Swede to win was Ole Ellefsæter of Norway (1971), who kicked off a decade in which Sweden won just five titles and racers from five other countries won the five other titles. Sweden won 8 of the titles in the 1980s (Austria [Mayer, 1980] and Switzerland [Hallenbarter, 1983] each won one title in that decade), and 8 more in the 1990s (Austria won one more title in that decade [Botvinov, 1997], and the race was canceled once ). In the 2000s, Sweden won seven races, Norway won twice (Anders Aukland, 2004; Jørgen Aukland, 2008), and Estonia won once (Olle, 2000).
- Vasaloppet USA, held annually on the second Saturday of February in Mora, Minnesota, USA (prior to 2015, the race occurred annually on the second Sunday of February)
- Vasaloppet Japan, held in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, since 1981
- Chinese Vasaloppet, held in Changchun since 2003
- Botniavasan, Finland, since 2006
- Vasaloppet de la Sergerie, Jonquière, Quebec, Canada, since 2007
Vasaloppet has been called a rite of passage for Swedes. Aside from the winners, some of the noted people who have completed the race are:
- Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden (3 times)
- Carl Philip, Prince of Sweden
- Peter Forsberg, ice hockey player
- Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark
- Marcus Grönholm, rally driver
- Mark Levengood, journalist, writer
- Pippa Middleton, socialite
- Ueli Maurer, Swiss defence minister
- James William Middleton, buinessman
- Arild Monsen, cross-country skier
- Rickard Olsson, television and radio presenter
- Anja Pärson, alpine skier
- Åsa Romson, politician
- Olaf Tufte, competition rower
- Frida Wallberg, boxer
- Måns Zelmerlöw, Eurovision winner
- "Så började allt" [How it all began]. www.vasaloppet.se. Vasaloppet. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Anta utmaningen i världens största skidtävling" [Accept the challenge in the world's largest ski competition]. www.vasaloppet.se. Vasaloppet. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Vasaloppets betydelse för regionen" [Vasaloppet's significance for the region]. www.mora.se. Mora Municipality, Sweden. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- TT (25 February 2013). "Vasaloppet en lönsam affär" [Vasaloppet profitable business]. www.gp.se. Göteborgs-Posten. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Sponsorer" [Sponsors]. www.vasaloppet.se. Vasaloppet. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Larsson, Lars-Gunnar (4 March 2016). "Vasaloppet nära ställas in efter Palmemordet" [Vadsaloppet almost cancelled after murder of Palme]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
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- Modin, Jenny (6 March 2015). "Birgitta åkte Vasaloppet 1978 – utklädd till man" [She did the Vasaloppet race in 1978 - disguised as a man]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Målgången i Mora" [The finish line in Mora]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Kranskulla och kransmas". www.vasaloppet.se. Vasaloppet. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Björnbom, Jonna (28 November 2014). "Här är nästa års kranskulla och kransmas" [Here is next year's karnskulla and kransmas]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Vasaloppsföreningen Sälen-Mora" (in Swedish). allabolag.se. Archived from the original on 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
- "A non-profit organization owned by IFK Mora and Sälens IF". Vasaloppet. Archived from the original on 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
- "Ekströms & Vasaloppet". www.ekströms.se. Ekströms. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Micu, Patrik (29 February 2016). "Fina förhållanden i Vasaloppsspåret" [Good conditions in the Vasaloppet track]. www.expressen.se. Expressen. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Falk, Anna (28 February 2002). "Ur spår, ditt blåbär!" [Make way, rookie!]. www.sn.se. Södermanlands Nyheter. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Johansson, Carolina (2013). "Bättre ett blåbär i Vasaloppet än ett torkat russin i TV-soffan." [Better a rookie in Vasaloppet than a rasin on the TV couch] (PDF). www.uu.se. Uppsala University. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Blomqvist, Anna (26 January 2016). "Nytt Vasalopp för blåbär och funktionärer" [A new Vasalopp for rookies and officials]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Karta". www.ibm.com. IBM. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Hedlund, Johan. "Snart dras repet för allt tuffare Tjurrus" [Soon The Rope will be drawn for a tougher Tjurrus]. www.vf.se. Värmlands Folkblad. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Grattis till målgång! Vad händer nu?" [Congrats on reaching the finish line! What happens next?]. www.vasaloppet.se. Vasaloppet. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Jutéus, Sten (1 March 2014). "Han är långsammast någonsin i vasaloppet" [He is the slowest ever in Vasaloppet]. www.expressen.se. Expressen. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "Vasaloppet". Worldloppet. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Pettersson, Kjell (9 March 2010). "Mandomsprovet. Tolvtaggaren. Vasaloppet. Numera öppet även för kvinnor!" [Rite of passage. Crown jewel. Vasaloppet. Now open to women.]. www.internationalen.se. Internationalen. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Kung Carl den sextonde Gustaf". www.kungahuset.se. Monarchy of Sweden. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Prins Carl Philip". www.kungahuset.se. Monarchy of Sweden. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Banck, Stina (28 February 2014). "Kändistätt i Vasaloppsspåren" [Celebs in Vasaloppet]. www.svt.se. Sveriges Television. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Bloodworth, Callum (3 March 2015). "Här följer du kändisarna i Vasaloppet" [Celebs in Vasaloppet]. www.expressen.se. Expressen. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Ståhlspets, Sofia (2 February 2012). "Kändisarna som diggar längdskidor" [Celebs who like cross-country skiing]. www.expressen.se. Expressen. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Pippa Middleton in Vasaloppet 2012". www.mynewsdesk.com. MyNewsDesk. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Åberg, Erik (6 March 2016). "Måns Zelmerlöw i mål – klarade Vasaloppet" [Måns Zelmerlöv at the finish line - made Vasaloppet]. www.aftonbladet.se. Aftonbladet. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vasaloppet.|
- Vasa That! – A participant's story
- Vasaloppet USA Website
- 3D animation of race – Google Earth software required
- 2D View on Google Maps
- Vasaloppet 2013 photos
- The event at SVT's Open Archive (Swedish)
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