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 then led Sweden in a successful revolt against the Danes and became King of Sweden.
The race 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 Vasaloppet is the 8th of 10 Worldloppets that are scored in the FIS Marathon Cup. With her win, Susanne Nystrom is now tied with Sandra Hansson in second place with 360 points. Jenny Hansson is in first place with 455 points. Next Up: The Engadin Marathon on March 14th and the Norwegian Birkebeiner on the 20th.
The following photographs and article (translated) are taken from www.vasaloppet.se.
What a Vasaloppet Week for Mora’s Susanne Nystrom: Last Saturday, she won TjejVasan [the largest women’s-only ski race, which is 30km long and has more than 8,000 participants] for the fourth time. One week later she brought victory home in the Vasaloppet.
“This is the biggest thing to happen to me as a skier. I’m both touched and happy at the same time,” said Nystrom after a race which was quite dramatic.
Immediately after the start, the three favorites – Jenny Hansson, Sandra Hansson, and Susanne Nystrom – were racing together, an unusual situation for the women’s Vasaloppet.
Never Gave Up
The distance between Sandra Hansson and Susanne Nystrom grew and was at most two minutes just before Oxberg.
“Even with the great distance I never felt that it was impossible to go catch up because the time between us went back and forth,” said Nystrom.
After Hökberg Sandra Hansson hit a wall. Nystrom worked to decrease the gap meter by meter. Shortly before Eldris, about ten kilometers from the finish, Nystrom could see Hansson.
“Then I felt that there was a chance. I began to wonder if I could pull directly or wait to make the move,” said Nystrom.
The result was that they were together for awhile just before Hemus, about four kilometers from the finish. This was when Nystrom increased the tempo.
“ The problem was that I immediately began cramping in the legs, but [increased the lead on Hansson]. Then it was only to fight on, “said Nystrom, who then raced into the finish alone to the cheer of the crowd.
“It was powerful to experience the feeling of being alone in the finish as a winner as I was both empty and tired but incredibly happy. I’m not familiar with the situation because I lost my four victories in TjejVasan by a sprint finish,” said Nystrom.
Sandra Hansson came in as runner-up. She was extremely tired after the race and got taken care of in order to recover. In her case there was nothing wrong with her will to win. Third place was Sofia Bleckur, of Mora.
In the case of Susanne Nystrom, we are seeing the beginning of a continued investment in the long races. Nystrom has admitted that she viewed the previous season’s start in the long races as a time to see and learn. She got her perfect delivery by winning this year’s Vasaloppet. The question is what will happen next winter when she takes marathon racing more seriously?
It will be exciting to see.
The first ten women finishers:
1 Susanne Nystrom, IFK Mora SK, 4:33:07
2 Sandra Hansson, Norway, 4:33:39
3 Sofia Bleckur, IFK Mora SK, 4:35:59
4 Jenny Hansson, Vålådalens SK, 4:44:21
5 Nina Lintzén, Årsunda IF, 4:46:31
6 Kristina Strandberg, IFK Hedemora SK, 4:50:40
7 Manuela Henkel, Germany, 4:53:45
8 Solveig Steinsland, Norway, 4:55:16
9 Ellen Sandbakken, Norway, 5:00:57
10 Karin Nilsson, IFK Umeå, 5:09:39
Footnote: Women were allowed to officially (modification of the FIS competition rules) enter Vasaloppet in 1981. Vasaloppet has had an official women’s race since 1997. Susanne Nystrom has now become the first woman to win an official double, that is, both TjejVasan and Vasaloppet, in the same year.
Full Results: Coming Soon