Vasaloppet in Sweden – the world’s longest cross country ski race


From 15000 to 400, and from 12 hours to 4. Today, the world’s longest cross country ski race takes place in Sweden. Called Vasaloppet, it entails participants skiing 90 kilometers from start to finish. It’s an extremely popular international race which is broadcast live on tv. When tickets to participate are released, they usually sell out in 15 minutes – it’s that popular.

This year is, however, a bit different. Normally 15000 people participate in the race, but because of the pandemic, this year only 400 people are taking part. These 400 are the elite athletes.

The first Vasalopp was in 1922 and takes place annually, the first Sunday in March and it is a first sign of spring.  Normal participants can take up to 12 hours to complete the gruelling course, but the elite athletes do it in a comparatively speedy time of around 4 hours.

So why is this race called ‘Vasaloppet’? Well, it takes its name from a Swedish king. The race commemorates the escape to Norway, through the forest, of King Gustav Vasa in 1521. Legend has it that he carried out the long journey on skis,  but experts believe he more likely completed this escape on snow shoes. Nevertheless, out of this legend sprung the race which is so popular today. ‘Vasa’ after the king, and ‘loppet’ meaning ‘the race’.

Modern day skiers don’t see the experience as an escape, they see it as a challenge and for many of them it’s a rite of passage.

And as you sit watching the TV comfortably from the sofa, with tea and toast, you take vicarious pleasure in this long, amazing Swedish race.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s