05 Mar 2010

Vasaloppet ski race

No Comments Sverige, Typically Swedish

Having breakfast and watching the traditional Vasaloppet ski race on TV (it’s always held the first Sunday in March). Vasaloppet is the oldest, the longest (90 km) and the biggest (this year it’s about 15 800 participants) cross country ski race in the world. It’s held in north-western Dalarna between the towns Sälen and Mora. The race was started in 1922 being inspired by the run that the future King Gustav Vasa had made in 1520.There been races going on the whole week known as the Vasaloppet week. If you don’t want to do the full 90 km in the big race there are also shorter alternatives during the week.

  • KortVasan (short – 30 km)
  • TjejVasan (ladies – 30 km)
  • HalvVasan (half – 45 km)
  • Öppet spår (non-competitive 90 km)
  • StafettVasan (relay 90 km)
  • SkejtVasan (free technique 30 km and 45 km).
  • Vasaloppet (90 km) – today’s race where the elite skiers from all over the world attend together with happy amateurs

The history behind Gustav Vasa’s ski trip:

The traditional story is that in 1520 the young nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa was escaping from the troops of Christian II, king of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (the Kalmar Union). A large part of the Swedish nobility was in opposition to the king, even having 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 was escaping through Dalarna, fearing for his life and discovery by the kings troops, when he spoke to the assembled men of Mora, trying to convince them to raise a levy and start a rebellion against king Christian. The men did not want to fight for those reasons so on his ski, Gustav Vasa started to make his way towards Norway, to find refuge there, when he was caught up at Sälen, by two Mora brothers on skis.

The men in Mora had changed their minds after hearing that the Danish rulers had decided to raise taxes, and they now wanted Gustav to lead the rebellion. On 6 June 1523, Gustav Vasa was crowned king of Sweden, having beaten the Danish king Christian and dissolved the Kalmar Union. Sweden has been fully independent ever since.

In fact the story is probably just a fable as historical documents place Gustav Vasa in Gävle at the time of his supposed ski trip in Dalarna. But as with all legends it is what people believe that is important.

Update:

The winner just crossed the finish line, 90 km in 4 hours and 3 minutes. That’s pretty fast 🙂

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