Each year, as a part of a winter week in Dalarna, Sweden, a traditional, 90 km classic nordic ski race is taking place. It is based on the history about Sweden’s first king, Gustav Vasa travelled the area on skis in the 1500’s. This would later lead to the liberation of Sweden from Danish tyranny and the establishment of a royal superpower in the north of Europe. Every year, thousands of skiers, amateurs and professionals, side by side, take part in the Vasa Race between Sälen and Mora.
The 2016 Vasa Race
The snow conditions have been pretty terrible the last two years, with lots of water at the tracks. This year, it was somewhat better, with soft tracks, but no water. Snow fell at the tracks most of the day. Anyway, on March 6, 08:00 in the morning, the start went. Among the favourites on the men’s side were last year’s winner Petter Eliasson together with some fellow Norwegian skiers. Sweden’s big hope, Johan Olsson, sadly had to refrain some participating because of a broken rib. In the women’s competition, many Swedes were hoping for Britta Johansson Norberg to finally win her first Vasa race after a good season with many victories in the longer races.
John Kristian Dahl won the men’s Vasa Race 2016
Two hours into the competition, two Norwegian skiers, Christoffer Callesen and Kjetil Hagtvedt Dammen broke loose from the large group at the front. They took turns in pulling and it looked good until about 20 kilometers was left of the race. Then, they got tired and the group behind them slowly but steady gained the 2 minute distance the two skiers had managed to build up. With 6 kilometers left of the race, a group of about 20 participants made their way towards the finish line. This could have been anyone’s race, but the strongest skier the last 100 meters was Norway’s John Kristian Dahl. This was the fourth time in a row that a Norwegian skier won the Vasa race. Dahl won the Vasa Race in 2014 as well. Oh, Well, after all, Norway belonged to Sweden long time ago and we were in a union with them until 1905. As long as no Danish skier wins the race we guess everyone is happy.
Katerina Smutna won the women’s Vasa Race 2016
In the women’s competition Johansson Norgren was ahead most of the race. She had almost a minute’s advantage over her competitors, but this distance was tightened the last half of the race. As in the men’s competition, the women’s race had to be decided the last 100 meters before the finish line. Sadly, some male skiers got in the way and prevented any real showdown between Johansson Norgren and Austria’s Katerina Smutna who had caught up her Swedish rival. Smutna got the best position in the end and could finish the race first. Even if there was no real sprint that decided the women’s race, overall, Smutna had caught up over a minute on Johansson Norgren and won fair and square. Even if there are physical differences between men and women, it is still fun to see them take part in a race with the same rules. This means that sometimes it will be tight at the ski tracks, but it also means that no one is treated differently due to their gender.
Prior winners of the Vasa Race
2015: Petter Eliassen, Norway/Justina Kowalczyk, Poland
2014: John Kristian Dahl, Norway/ Laila Kveli, Norway
2013: Jörgen Aukland, Norway/Laila Kveli, Norway
2012: Jörgen Brink, Sweden/ Vibeke Skofterud, Norway
2011: Jörgen Brink, Sweden/Jenny Hansson, Sweden
Also see http://www.vasaloppet.se/en/
Now we are looking forward to follow the last competitions of the Ski Tour Canada before we put our skis on the shelf for this winter.