It all began nearly 500 years ago, the year 1520 to be precise, when a Swedish nobleman, Gustav Eriksson Vasa, fled the blood letting troops of King Christian II of Denmark, who only weeks before had executed Vasa’s father and brother with 80 other Swedes, in what became known as Stockholm’s bloodbath. Vasa fled to Mora where he attempted to persuade the people to rise in revolt against the Danes but before they gave him an answer the impending arrival of Danish troops was announed and Vasa fled.
Within days news of the Stockholm bloodbath had arrived in Mora and the people wished Vasa was still with them to lead the rebellion. They sent their two fastest skiers after him and they caught up with him at Salen and persuaded him to turn back. That was Sweden’s first Vasalopp. The rest is history as they say – 3 years later Gustav Eriksson Vasa was elected king of a free Sweden.
It was not until 1922 that the people of Mora voted to hold a race between Salen and Mora, a distance of 90 kms (56 miles) and on March 19th 1922 the Vasaloppet, as it became known, was again raced with 119 starters with the winner, Ernst Alm, coming home in 7 hours 32 minutes 49 seconds.
Today there is a whole week of fun, sking, music and festivities. The skiing now includes non competitive events, 30 kms races, races for girls only and for all ages – as many as 140,000 people have participated in one year alone! This is Europe’s greatest ski fest and the big race itself, which is now completed in as little as 3 hours 40 minutes has been won, other than by Swedes, by individuals from Norway, Finland, Germany, Russia and France. There have been many unique and sporting occurences in the 86 years of the race. Below you will see the profile of the 90 km course from Salen to Mora.
Entries for the 2009 event – which starts on February 20th and finishes with the Vasaloppet itself on March 1st have already reached over 30,000 and can be found on the official website – jusy click on the following link http://www.vasaloppet.se/wps/VasaCMS/generated/resources.Loppbasinfo/anmalan/enanmalan.html and choose which event is for you.
Finally you can see some of the fun in the video below from magnuslindgren – this sport is very tough and very extreme.