Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sweden’s Version of the Marathon – Vasaloppet

Tomorrow the Vasalopp gets underway. Basically, a really, really, really long cross country ski race. Really long. 90 kilometer long. Nearly 56 miles for those of you converting at home. There are all kinds of variants but the big one. The real one is the 90 km race.

The race celebrates the vaunted historical path that Gustav Vasa took in 1520 as he fled from the king of the Kalmar Union, who had just massacred a bunch of Swedish noblemen at the Stockholm Bloodbath. An interesting aside is that here in Sweden, this King is usually referred to as the King of Denmark, which I suppose since he is Danish is true, but he also ruled over Sweden and Norway which was part of the Kalmar Union. Anyway, massacres aren’t nice. So Vasa decided to man up and ski a long ways trying to drum up support for a rebellion. And being a charismatic young man, and stunningly handsome, he managed to convince a few people to follow him. Which led to him being named king a few years later. And a boat being named after him even later still. Which sunk. But no worries. Now it sits in a museum. And his name of course adorns the cross country ski race commemorating this legendary trip. Kind of like the whole marathon story I suppose. Except in the cold. In Sweden. And a lot farther.

And of course it will be shown on TV. And I’ll probably watch for a little while. Because I just need some sort of televised sport fix. And it might be relaxing. Which is a weird concept when watching sports. And one that I am not entirely sure I want to embrace. But it seems very Swedish. So I’m going to give it a go.

Unfortunately though, I missed seeing Princess Madeleine finish the Tjejvasa. And she is hot. Which is why it was unfortunate that I missed seeing it. The Tjejvasa is the woman’s Vasa, which only happens to be 30 km. Wusses. And where is that Swedish equality? A woman should be able to handle the 90 km if a man can. This is Sweden, where women can do anything a man can do. And more.

Anyway, it’s still impressive. I’ve never cross country skied 30 km. Or ever really. I prefer downhill. The Princess however, apparently likes the cross country. Or she just wanted to show off and become the third member of the Royal Family to complete the race (I learned that from Well done. But I’ll really be impressed when she rocks the real one.

But tomorrow it is. SVT will be showing the race. And I will marvel at the simplicity of cross country skiing, and the fact that they are doing things that would absolutely kick my ass. So even though it might be relaxing. Some might say boring. I know that I couldn’t grab a pair of skis and do that tomorrow. And that’s the beauty of watching athletic endeavors.


  1. Never really been a big fan of sport events like marathon and Vasaloppet. I would be one of those calling it boring... I actually don't think it's relaxing either, I'm just wondering when "the hell they will get to the finish line!" Felt good to let out that anger, I'm boiling...


  2. The Tour of Anchorage is also being held tomorrow. It is also a long cross country ski race although not as long. It is held in Anchorage, Alaska... there are 3 lengths to choose from 25km 40km and 50km. I actually skied the 25 when I was 10 years old. That was the only time my mom could talk me into it. My family races it every year. Unlike Sweden they let women compete in all distances. My sister has raced the 50 although being the tough lady she is had to cut it back to the 40km last year because she was 7mo pregnant. Once again another similarity of the northern latitudes. Although this event isn't televised... there will be clips of the winners on the news.
    Always a fun event to go watch in person. You can actually drive across Anchorage to cheer on your friends and family at different points along the trail!

  3. Just wanted to drop a line and say how much I enjoy reading your blog! Came across it through another blog (how original) and have been returning since. I'm born and raised in Sweden but now live in Canada. It is so much fun to read your well-written reflections on Swedish "pheonomenon" or every day life things.
    Jeanette - a Swede in Canada

  4. Vasaloppet to me is an awesome athletic venture, 14,000 skiers, record time 3 hours and 38 minutes (close to 17 miles per hour).
    Hairy, you should sign up and do it next year with your hot girlfriend or some friends. I challenge you to make it in less than 6 hours. It is one of those things that should be on a list of things to do in life

  5. @ robban - just let it out

    @anonymous - I should clear it up, women can compete in the regular race but the Sweds just also offer a tjejvasa, the womens vasa as well.

    but after having watched the race today I think it probably would be more fun in person.

    @Jeanette - thanks for the comment. glad you're enjoying it.

    @anonymous - actually it is something I would very mch like to do. however, having watched it now I think 6 hourswould murder me. Id just be pumped to finish. we'll see. we will see...

    the real question though is: have you done it?

  6. I have NOT done it and I think it something that I should man up and do it

  7. yeah it would make for a hell of a story.

  8. Good to know that women can participate. I will let my sister know, she maybe headed over next year. I spent many years manning the West High feed station and always had a good time handing out gatoraid and or water. To get out there with your cowbell and all the Scandinavian transplants yelling "Hiya Hiya Hiya" is a great experience!

  9. What do you mean "hell of a story"?!

  10. i would think anytime you could ski over 50 miles it would be a hell of a story!!

  11. good work alaska4life - spread the word that is vasaloppet

    anonymouses - I definitely think skiing over 50 miles would be a hell of a story and worth telling to everyone

  12. anyonymouses or anonymi that is the question

  13. indeed. to be or not to be my ass - what is the plural form of anonymous that is the question