Vasaloppet is a popular cross-country ski race that is organised in Dalarna (Central Sweden). The event takes place on the first Sunday of March.
Cross-country skiing is a combination of ice skating and skiing. You have long, narrow skis at your feet, you slide your feet forward and make a specific cross-country movement. You can also use sticks to speed up movement by pushing your body forward on arm strength.
From Sälen to Mora
The cross-country skiers of Vasaloppet cover a ninety kilometer route. With a start in Sälen and a finish in Mora, it was the longest of its kind for a long time. It is also the oldest cross-country skiing race (since 1922) and the one with the most participants. It is a gigantic event and everyone can participate. Both top athletes and ordinary citizens can register. Every year there are also famous Swedes who participate, often for a good cause.
Thousands of people participate in the Vasaloppet or come to support the participants. Due to great success, the organizers created different variants. Nowadays you can also run and cycle the distance in a competition at the end of August. In Mora you can also visit the museum about the Vasalopp.
About kranskulla and blåbärsoppa
The lady and gentleman who may hand over the crown of victory to the winner are called kranskulla and kransmas. They are real ambassadors for the event.
No less than 50,000 liters of blåbärsoppa (blue currant juice) are served during the Vasaloppet week. The participants get this at the supply stations.
With the Vasaloppet contest they commemorate the flee of the later Swedish king, Gustav Vasa, by the Danish king Christian II and his troops. In the winter of 1520-1521, Gustav Vasa made this same trip on skis, but in the opposite direction.
In 1520, the young nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa was fleeing from the troops of the Danish king Christian II. 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.
Lars & Engelbrekt
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 June 6, 1523, Gustav Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, after defeating the Danish King Christian and dissolving the Kalmar Union. Since that day, Sweden has been an independent nation.
Although Gustav traveled from Mora to Sälen, the modern race is run in the opposite direction arriving in Mora. Vasaloppet is part of “En Svensk Klassiker”, about which more here.
Are you up for the challenge? You can register via this link.
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