Page 38 - Bauerfeind life 2013.2

38
life
magazine 2013/2
In Motion
A victory wreath awaits the winner at the finish line in Mora.
>>> The world’s oldest, longest and biggest
cross-country ski race is held in the tradi-
tional style over 90 km between the villages
of Sälen and Mora. The ski marathon has
long been part of Swedish folklore – this is
due in part to the history of the race, which
bears the motto, “In the footsteps of our
fathers for the victories of the future.”
Historic escape on skis
Newspaper editor Anders Pers initiated the
first Vasaloppet in 1922, to commemorate
the escape and fight for freedom of Swe-
den’s future King Gustav I Vasa. One version
of the story is as follows: 1520 saw an in-
crease in Sweden’s dissatisfaction with the
Kalmar Union with Denmark under the lead-
ership of the Danish king. The nobleman
Gustav Vasa incited open resistance among
his countrymen and was forced to flee. On
the way to Norway, he passed through Mora
in the province of Dalarna. He found no
support there either and continued his es-
cape on skis. When news of the “Stockholm
Bloodbath” broke shortly after, in which his
father and around 100 other followers were
killed, the inhabitants of Mora reconsidered
and sent their two best cross-country ski-
ers after him. They caught up with Gustav
Vasa in Sälen and persuaded him to return
and lead the War of Liberation, which was
ultimately successful in 1523. The first
modern Vasaloppet was held on March 19,
1922,
albeit in the opposite direction – the
direction in which it is still held today. The
entire route thus has only relatively minor
contours and is mostly downhill, with the
exception of the initial gradient. Different
reports suggest that 119 or 136 participants
started the race in 1922, with the winner
reaching the finish in around seven and a
half hours. The current course record is held
by Sweden’s Jörgen Brink, who completed
the course in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 41
seconds in 2012.
Magic potion by the liter
However, most of those taking part in the
race aim to complete the 90 km within the
time limit of 12 hours. Intermediate times
are taken at seven official refreshment
stations along the route. Anyone who fails
to reach his or her respective intermediate
target time is forced to continue the journey
to Mora by bus. However, the number of
passengers on the bus remains low, possibly
thanks to the traditional Vasaloppet magic
potion of blueberry soup, which is served
warm and with a lot of sugar at the refresh-
ment stations. Only 3.2 percent of those
who started the race in 2012 were unable to
complete it.
Although 2013 was a record year which saw
racers from 42 countries take part in the
traditional ski marathon, it remains largely
a Swedish event. This is also reflected in the
list of winners. To date, only 13 cross-country
skiers from outside Sweden have made it
to the top of the podium. The first ever
non-Scandinavian winner was Gerd-Dietmar
Klause in 1975, a member of the national
cross-country skiing team of the German
Democratic Republic. However, the most
famous participant is Sweden’s Nils Karlsson
(“
Mora Nisse”), who won the race nine times
between 1943 and 1953.
From its beginnings as a cult event, the Vasa-
loppet has now become a major occasion. A
number of other events are now held in the
week before the 90 km classic. For example,
there is the “half Vasaloppet” (HalvVasan)
over 45 km, the “short Vasaloppet” (KortVa-
san) over 30 km, a relay race (StafettVasan)
and a “ladies’ Vasaloppet” (TjejVasan) over
30
km that is open only to women.
Speaking of women: the first woman took
part in the Vasaloppet in 1923, but women
were banned from taking part by the organiz-
ers for a long time. Only in 1981 were women
allowed to take part in the race again.
What is more, the event has only had to be
canceled once in its long history. In 1990,
there was just too little snow. However, the
event was also aborted in 1932 and 1934 due
to a lack of snow. The organizers are hoping
for better conditions to coincide with the
event’s 90th anniversary in 2014. This time,
a total of 68,400 starting places will be avail-
able for the entire Vasaloppet week.
Time for the final push!
Pictures: www.vasaloppet.se
Further information
about the Vasaloppet can be found at
.