Jubileumsvasan – long day's journey to the finish in Mora
The temperature was one degree below freezing and the weather a little overcast when Jubileumsvasan started in Sälen at 07:04 on Saturday morning. It was then exactly 36,490 days and one hour since the start of the very first Vasaloppet on March 19, 1922. Jubileumsvasan is a tribute race to the pioneers who started and completed the first race 100 years ago. Ernst Alm was first across the finish line back in 1922 and Erik Wikström from Sjömarken in Västergötland was first to cross the finish in 2022. But many had a tough time out in the track.
The whole Jubileumsvasan could be followed live via Vasaloppet.TV throughout the day, starting at 06.55. The broadcast continued until the last participant reached the finish line. Of course, it's also possible to re-watch the race after the fact.
All participants skied in clothing and equipment contemporary to 1922. 130 of 139 registered participants came to the start and three-time Vasaloppet winner Daniel Tynell said, minutes before the start in Sälen:
"I had a better understanding of what to expect when I skied Vasaloppet for the first time, much better than now. But I'll chug along with my naive approach and we'll see how it goes. Paying tribute to the pioneers who did this 100 years ago will be a fantastic adventure."
Firelight guided the skiers through the dark at the start. One of the last skiers down to the bridge over the Västerdalälven river was TV presenter Stephan Wilson who said this was a story to tell both children and grandchildren.
Some set off at a higher pace in Jubileumsvasan 2022: Erik Wickström was first to Smågan. The very next minute, Olympic gold medallist Anders Södergren arrived. Somewhat later, World Cup winner Mathias Fredriksson passed, thinking that this was going easier than expected. One of the straps on his bamboo ski pole had broken but he'd soon have a tailwind at his back.
Unlike in 1922, when no women registered for Vasaloppet, there were a total of 37 women on the start list for Jubileumsvasan. Sofia Lind, who has won Vasaloppet more times than anyone throughout history, was the first woman to reach Smågan after an hour and 22 minutes of skiing. A minute later, Catrin Ingvarsson passed the crowd in Smågan, where the atmosphere was good.
The first official checkpoint in Jubileumsvasan was Mångsbodarna after about 24 km, where an enthusiastic audience of about 500 people – many in 1920s attire – had gathered. Functionaries served cheese sandwiches, pancakes, milk, coffee, eggs and blueberry soup on the long tables. First to reach the checkpoint, just before 09:00, was energetic Erik Wickström, who had waxed his wooden skis with tar. He didn't have time to linger since he knew that Anders Södergren was only a little bit further back. His lead over Anders Södergren turned out to be four minutes but Erik was 14 minutes slower than the fastest passing time in Mångsbodarna 100 years ago.
Out of the 90 Jubileumsvasan kilometres, about half ran along the modern Vasaloppet course, which had rougher surfaces prepared in place of the normal ski tracks. The rest of the route went through terrain on packed snow, though with a few kilometres on a horse-drawn road in Tennäng.
After three hours, half of the participants had passed Mångsbodarna. Those in the lead were nearing the second checkpoint, Evertsberg, which has been a checkpoint in every Vasaloppet since 1922.
Erik Wickström's passing time in Evertsberg was 3:37:00, just over half an hour quicker than the 1922 passing time. The lead over Anders Södergren was still close to four minutes.
Sofia Lind, who skied wearing a skirt, arrived at the Evertsberg checkpoint after 4:45:00 in the company of Catrin Ingvarsson, but Catrin stopped there for a few extra minutes to work on her equipment.
The Jubileumsvasan participants didn't have to ski up the Lundbäcksbacken slope, named in 1981, meaning that the track profile was a bit flatter than usual. Instead the route went north of the Oxberg lake in towards the railway station in Oxberg, where Erik Wickström, still full of energy, could stop to send a greeting back home to his family. In Oxberg he was 46 minutes ahead of the 1922 time and nine minutes ahead of Anders Södergren.
Ernst Alm from Norsjö won the first Vasaloppet with the time 7:32:49. Now the question was: would Erik ski Jubileumsvasan quicker than the second Vasaloppet victor Oskar Lindberg (also from Norsjö), who won in 1923 with the time 6:32:41?
The crowd along the track grew. At the finish in Mora, temperatures had risen to three degrees above freezing, the sun was peeking out, and Erik Wickström's skis still had a good grip, though slightly worse glide, and he could wave to the audience as he progressed alone towards the finish. The last 500 meters were the same as in 1922. The first skier was met, just like back in the day, by a birch trumpet fanfare and thousands of spectators at the belfry.
At the belfry, Erik Wickström also received the victory wreath from Kranskulla Wilma Björkman. He crushed Ernst Alm's victory time but did not reach Oskar Lindberg's time from 1923. Jubileumsvasan's manual timing clocked Erik Wickström's finishing time as 6.57.00 (the race only counts full minutes).
"It was very cool with everyone cheering and the skiing was so much fun," said Erik Wickström. "It exceeded all expectations. Getting to be first across the finish was great. Anders Södergren sped ahead of me at the first hill but I had better glide, with my tar and wax. Long-distance races suit me."
Anders Södergren, who finished second, losing by ten minutes, was all the more tired and had to lie down at the finish to recover. In 1922, Vasaloppet was a national ski race but this year there were several international participants. The best international skier was Tore Stengrundet from Norway who came third.
In 1923, Margit Nordin became the first woman to ski Vasaloppet and her time was 10.09.42. Sofia Lind, the first woman to finish Jubileumsvasan, finished with the time 8.59.00.
When Erik Wickström finished, 97 participants had passed Evertsberg. (The last man to finish in 1922 completed the race in 14:11:00, arriving three hours after the previous man!) The Jubileumsvasan finish would, however, stay open until the last participant crossed the finish line. Darkness fell and at 18.00, eleven hours after the start, 49 skiers had reached the finish line, 9 had aborted their race – but 72 were still out along the track, most of them between Oxberg and Mora.
In the end, 115 of the 130 starters crossed the finish line. The last participant finished with a time of 18:38:00.
The top three men and women were celebrated after finishing. Medals were awarded to all participants.
First to finish, men
1. Erik Wickström, Hestra IF, 6.57.00
2. Anders Södergren, Östersunds Skidlöpareklubb, 7.07.00
3. Tore Stengrundet, Norway, 7.15.00
First to finish, women
1. Sofia Lind, Duved, 8.59.00
2. Catrin Ingvarsson, OK Renen, 9.21.00
3. Ingela Gahne, XC Sthlm Ski Club, 9.44.00
All results (choose Jubileumsvasan under Events):
Thousands watched along the tracks. Spectator comments:
Lena Mases and Ylva Andersson, both in traditional folk costumes, came from Borlänge to Oxberg to cheer on the skiers.
"Great fun with the fantastic atmosphere and all the nice clothes," said Lena, who in her day-to-day life works with three-time Vasaloppet winner Daniel Tynell, who finished eleventh in Jubileumsvasan.
Anna-Lisa and Anette Carlsson, mother and daughter, sat on a fur-clad bench at the Oxberg control. They had come from Finspång in Östergötland and call themselves Vasaloppet nerds.
"Of course we wanted to come here and experience Jubileumsvasan on location. And we're very fond of Dalarna as well, so we booked this all the way back in October," said Anette.
On the dedicated Jubileumsvasan page at vasaloppet.se, find facts, route, participant introductions, links to articles and TV reports about the participants, and more.
Watch the whole Jubileumsvasan after the fact, highlights and interviews on Vasaloppet's streaming service:
Watch two features from TV4:
Watch more features from Sveriges Television SVT
Read more about Anders Pers and the first Vasaloppet:
Jubileumsvasan's official Facebook group:
PRESS PHOTOS AND VIDEOS FROM JUBILEUMSVASAN:
More facts about Vasaloppet in Vasaloppet's new Facts Guide 2022 (Swedish only):
Upcoming events in the Vasaloppet Arena in the Anniversary Year of 2022 – Vasaloppet 100 years:
Vasaloppet's Winter Week 2022 (registration is open)
• Friday 25 February Vasaloppet 30 30 km, start Oxberg
• Saturday 26 February Tjejvasan 30 km, start Oxberg
• Sunday 27 February Ungdomsvasan 9 km start Eldris, 19 km start Hökberg
• Sunday 27 February Öppet Spår Sunday 90 km, start Sälen
• Monday 28 February Öppet Spår Monday 90 km, freestyle, start Sälen
• Tuesday 1 March Vasaloppet 45 45 km, start Oxberg
• Friday 4 March Stafettvasan 90 km, five-person teams, start Sälen
• Friday 4 March Nattvasan 90 90 km, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Sälen
• Friday 4 March Nattvasan 45 45 km, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Oxberg
• Friday 4 March Nattvasan 30 30 km, individually or two-person teams, freestyle, start Oxberg
• Saturday 5 March Vasaloppet 10 9 km, start Eldris
• Sunday 6 March Vasaloppet 90 km, start Sälen (fully booked)
Vasaloppet's Summer Week 2022 (registration is open)
• Friday 12 August Cykelvasan Öppet Spår 94 km, start Sälen
• Friday 12 August Cykelvasasprinten 1 km, Lindvallen, Sälen
• Saturday 13 August Cykelvasan 90 94 km, start Sälen
• Sunday 14 August Cykelvasan 45 45 km, start Oxberg
• Sunday 14 August Cykelvasan 30 32 km, start Oxberg
• Sunday 14 August Ungdomscykelvasan 32 km, start Oxberg
• Friday 19 August Trailvasan 10 10 km, start Mora
• Saturday 20 August Ultravasan 90 90 km, start Sälen
• Saturday 20 August Ultravasan 45 45 km, start Oxberg
• Saturday 20 August Trailvasan 30 30 km, start Oxberg
• Saturday 20 August Vasastafetten 90 km, running relay for ten-person teams, start Sälen
• Saturday 20 August Vasakvartetten 90 km, running relay for four-person teams, start Sälen
Vasaloppstrippeln – ski, bike and run, all in one year
Vasaloppstrippeln is a challenge where you complete three races – skiing, cycling and running – during one and the same calendar year. Choose between 90, 45 or 30 kilometres.
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For more information
Camilla Sandy, Vasaloppet Press Manager
+46 (0)70-384 95 00
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Vasaloppet is the world's biggest cross-country ski race. Vasaloppet's Winter Week with its cross-country skiing and Summer Week with mountain biking and running attract a total of almost 100,000 registered participants every year. Since the beginning in 1922 1.7 million participants have passed the finish line portal in Mora. Vasaloppet is a non-profit making organization owned by IFK Mora and Sälens IF. An engine for public health and sports club activities, in forefathers' tracks for future victories!