This year’s Swedish Vasaloppet saw a record number of racers. There were 15,702 finishers in the 90 kilometer classic race, which saw it’s first running in 1922 with 100 participants.
The race’s history comes from the beginning of Sweden’s independence from Denmark, led by nobleman Gustav Vasa. After his first failed attempt at recruiting his countrymen to join in his revolt, Vasa fled toward Norway. Two Swedish skiers were sent to bring Vasa back and they found him 90 kilometers away in the town of Salen. Vasa went on to lead Sweden in a successful revolt against the Danes and became King of Sweden.
The Vasaloppet is the biggest sporting event in Sweden, drawing 300,000 spectators and racers. There is a 10 day winter festival which culminates in the 90km classic race. There are also shorter classic and skate races held in the days leading up to the main event, and in most of these races participants finish at a wooden door on Mora’s main street which is inscribed with the words: “For Victory and the Future in the Trail of the Fathers.”
The following photographs and article (translated) are taken from vasaloppet.se.
Jorgen Brink, 35, competing for Hudiksvall, is this year’s winner of the SwedishVasaloppet in Mora, Sweden.
He took home the victory after an intense sprint against Daniel Tynell. Thus, a new profile entered the international long distance circuit.
“It’s good if I can help [by being a new name to win a marathon race] to increase interest in long races, “said Jorgen Brink after his victory.
Over the last ten years there has basically been about the same favorites competing and winning the FIS Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen) races. It is testament to the fact that it is very difficult to establish oneself among the top names in these races, but the new profiles increase the interest in these competitions. Therefore, there were many who felt additional pleasure when Jorgen Brink won Sunday’s Vasaloppet. It was a victory that meant a lot to everyone who works with international long distance ski races.
“It’s hard to compete against the best skiers. But now I’ve taken a big and important step. This might mean that I do a proper long-distance venture next season, “said Brink.
Before this season, Brink was trying to make the Olympic team in the biathlon. When he did not make the team, he switched focus and began investing in Vasaloppet training.
Brink showed his fitness two weeks ago when he achieved a second place finish in the Tartu Marathon, but he then experienced sickness that took him out of training for a week and a half. It was only four days before the Vasaloppet that he began training again. Brink did not make the decision to start the race until Saturday afternoon.
“Then I felt it was worth making an effort. During the race I concentrated to hang on for one kilometer at a time,” said Brink.
That explains why he kept a low profile in the main peloton, while several of the competitors were on the ball.
In the first hill, for example, a group of eight racers were pulling, including Norwegian Thomas Alsgaard and Czech Stanislav Rezac. They made a gap of two minutes on the main peloton. But Jorgen Brink was always calm.
“Yes, because there were so many talented riders in the main peloton. Therefore, it felt like we could go catch up with them.”
Tynell took over
Brink was right. After Oxberg all dissidents were picked up and then last year’s winner, Daniel Tynell, took the show. He made an initial pressure just before Hökberg, where the peloton broke but too many were hanging on. Therefore Tynell went in had to make a decision:
“The competitors looked tired while I felt very alert,” said Tynell. “Therefore it was natural for me to make several attempts to escape. But it was not and when five kilometers remaining, I realized that it would be in the finish sprint. Then I focused myself on this.”
Daniel Tynell, Jorgen Brink, Jorgen Aukland and Stanislav Rezac came simultaneously into the finish. Tynell drew up the run. Brink was behind him until he was one hundred yards from the finish, then Brink attacked for the first time and won by several feet over Tynell.
“You can say that I grew into the race. In the beginning I was unsure if I could cope. A few kilometers from the finish I started to believe in victory. In the race I [stayed a little back of] Daniel and then I began to race very hard with a couple hundred yards from the finish. It worked and I had the win,” says Brink.
Daniel Tynell, who had done most of the towing job, was baffled after the finish but was the first to congratulate Brink.
“He skiied a good race. However, I must still be satisfied. I gave 110 percent while the race developed as I had requested. I could not do more, “said Tynell.
Double Important victory
For Jorgen as a person and skier, this was more than a victory in the Vasaloppet. Until now, he’s most associated with having collapsed at the World Championship relay in 2003 at Val di Fiemme, destroying Sweden’s golden chance. Now, he can be remembered for something else.
“I am aware that it is hard to forget my effort in the World Cup relay. But now I am winner of the Vasaloppet and it’s icing on the cake for my ski career.”
Daniel Tynell, who won the race three times, ensures that Brink has a wonderful time ahead of him.
“You will notice how unbelievably great it is to win the Vasaloppet. For many, this is almost bigger than the World Cup and Olympic medals. Take the opportunity to enjoy this victory,” Tynell said, welcoming Jorgen Brink to the Vasaloppet title.
The Vasaloppet is the 8th of 10 Worldloppets in the FIS Marathon Cup Series. The last two races will be the Engadin Marathon on March 14th and the Norwegian Birkebeiner on the 20th. This is Brink’s only scoring points race and he is 16th on the list. Fabio Santus of Italy is in first place with 365 points, Oskar Svaerd of Sweden is in second place with 322 points and Marco Cattaneo of Italy is in third with 247 points.
Top Ten Men:
1 Jörgen Brink, Hudiksvalls IF, 4:02:59
2 Daniel Tynell, Grycksbo IF OK, 4:02:59
3 Stanislav Rezac, Tjeckien, 4:03:02
4 Jörgen Aukland, Norge, 4:03:06
5 Fredrik Östberg, Falun/Borlänge SK, 4:03:37
6 Marco Cattaneo, Italien, 4:03:51
7 Oskar Svärd, Vålådalens SK, 4:04:54
8 Erik Eriksson, IFK Mora SK, 4:05:04
9 Markus Jönsson, Ulricehamns IF, 4:05:08
10 Dan Moberg, Ulricehamns IF, 4:05:09
Full Results: (will be posted soon)