OVERVIEW & HISTORY
In 1922 a Swedish newspaper publisher came up with an idea of holding a ski race to commemorate the founding of modern Sweden. Sweden back in 1522 was ruled by Denmark but a Swedish nobleman named Gustav Vasa was attempting lead his fellow countrymen in revolt against the Danes.
Gusav told the people around Mora of a Danish massacre of Swedes in Stockholm, but his story was not believed and his attempt to raise an army failed. With Danish troops after him, Gustav Vasa fled on skis to Norway. But soon afterwards his fellow countryman heard news that Gustav was telling the truth and they sent two skiers to catch Gustav and have him return to Mora. They caught up to him near Salen, Sweden and Gustav then successfully led the revolt against Danish rule.
Since 1922 the Swedish Vasaloppet has commemorated that event with the 90 kilometer ski race from Salen to Mora. The first race had about 100 skiers, but today the Vasaloppet has grown to seven races over a ten day period that attracts nearly 50,000 skiers.
Sweden gave permission in 1972 to a small race in Mora, Minnesota to use the Vasaloppet name and in the 1980's a race in Asahikawa Japan took the Vasaloppet name. Then in 2002 a fourth Vasaloppet race was begun; this time in Changchun, China.
Mora Vasaloppet USA
In 1973, a small group of Mora volunteers and 96 skiers gathered in a farm field in northern Kanabec County for the first Vasaloppet cross county ski race.
Renown for its hometown hospitality and volunteer spirit, the Vasaloppet, which has a self-imposed limit of 3,000 skiers, now offers 58km, 58km Relay, 35km, 13km freestyle races and a 42km classic-only race.
The four Vasaloppet races (Sweden, USA, Japan and China) have formed an International Vasaloppet Skiing Exchange designed to promote not only the four races, but to foster a better understanding of different cultures and every three years an International Vasaloppet Skiing Conference and cultural exchange is held in one of the countries.
Today, the race finishes in downtown Mora thanks to the cooperation of city street crews who perform the oddest of Minnesota winter tasks of dumping snow back onto the town's main street. The ability to finish in Mora is also possible due to the cooperation of over 100 landowners who give permission for the race courses to cross their land.
The USA Vasaloppet's point-to-point race course offers separate trails for the 58km/58km Relay and the 35km race. Those races begin in a mass start at 10 a.m., but then split three kilometers from the start. The 42km Classic race begins an hour earlier and after a seven-kilometer loop joins back to 35km trail for the duration of the race and into downtown Mora. The 13km race begins at 12:30 p.m. near Knife Lake, which is north of Mora. The 13km skiers also cross the finish line in downtown Mora and like every Vasaloppet skier they receive a completion medal.
The gently rolling wooded countryside doesn't present steep hills, which may please large number of touring skiers, but for serious and elite racers the course profile translates into a start to finish sprint with few opportunities to rest downhill or make break-away move uphill.
But it's the atmosphere of the race that skiers say keeps them coming back as the Mora community somehow converts its volunteer spirit and hospitality into a tangible presence. In all, this race takes the effort of nearly 1,000 volunteers on race day and scores of volunteers who work year-round on the thousands of details that require attention.
Vasaloppet, Inc. is a 501c3 organization that operates the race through a 12 member, all volunteer board of directors.
The Mora Vasaloppet is part of the...
The Minnesota Skinnyski Series is for skiers of all ages and abilities who compete for the overall, age class recognition or the team championship. The Series includes the Pepsi Challenge 24K, the City of Lakes Loppet 35K, the Mora Vasaloppet 35K, and the Finlandia 25K.
American Ski Marathon Series
North America's longest-running and largest citizen's racing and touring series. Featuring fourteen premier ski marathons and winter festivals stretching from New Hampshire to Alaska.