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Jubileumsvasan – A Long Day’s Journey Towards The Finish In Mora

It was minus degrees and a little overcast when the start of the Jubileumsvasan took place in Sälen, Sweden, at 7:04 CET on Saturday morning. 

Photo: Vasaloppet

Erik Wickström, Hestra IF, 2022 Jubileumsvasan winner.

It was then precisely 36,490 days and an hour after the beginning of the very first Vasaloppet on March 19, 1922. 

The Jubileumsvasan is the tribute race to the pioneers who started and completed the first race 100 years ago. First at the finish in 1922 was Ernst Alm, and first in 2022 was Erik Wikström, from Sjömarken, in Västergötland. 

The entire Jubileumsvasan could be followed in Vasaloppet.TV throughout the day, from 06:55 CET. The broadcast continues until the last participant reaches the finish line. Of course, it will also be possible to watch the race afterward.

All participants skied in contemporary costumes and equipment like in 1922. 130 of 139 registered participants came to the start, and the three-time Vasaloppet winner Daniel Tynell thought before the start in Sälen:

 “I had a better idea of ​​what to expect when I skied the Vasaloppet for real, very good check compared to now. But I’m a little naive and tough, and we’ll see how it goes. It will be an incredibly wonderful adventure and in that spirit, to pay tribute to the pioneers who did this 100 years ago.”

The skiers were guided at the beginning by marshals in the dark. One of the last down to the bridge over the Västerdalälven river was the TV profile Stephan Wilson who said that this was something he would tell children and grandchildren.

However, some set more speed in the Jubileumsvasan 2022: Erik Wickström was first to Smågan. The minute after, the Olympic gold medalist Anders Södergren arrived. A little later came the World Cup winner Mathias Fredriksson who thought it went easier than expected. However, he had been hit by a broken rod on his bamboo pole. But he was soon to get a nice tailwind in his back.

Unlike in 1922, when no woman registered for the Vasaloppet, there were as many as 37 women on the starting list for the Jubileumsvasan. Sofia Lind, Vasaloppet’s most winner of all time, was the first lady to Smågan after an hour and 22 minutes of skiing. A minute later, Catrin Ingvarsson passed the audience in Smågan, where the atmosphere was good.

The first official inspection in Jubileumsvasan was, however, Mångsbodarna after about 24 km, where an enthusiastic audience of about 500 people – many in 1920s attire – had gathered. The officials had served cheese sandwiches, pancakes, milk, coffee, eggs, and blueberry soup on the long tables. First there, just before 09:00 CET, was a lively Erik Wickström, who grazed his wooden skis with tar. However, he did not have time to stay long at the checkpoint because he knew that Anders Södergren was further back on the track. 

However, it turned out that Erik’s lead was four minutes ahead of Anders Södergren. However, Erik was 14 minutes before the best passing time in Mångsbodarna 100 years ago.

Of the Jubileumsvasan’s ninety kilometers, almost half went in the modern Vasaloppet track, where there were no ordinary ski tracks but up to a “rough” surface. Otherwise, the track went in terrain on packed snow. But also a few kilometers on the wrong road (by horse) in Tennäng.

After just over three hours, half of the starters had passed Mångsbodarna. Then the lead approached the second control, Evertsberg, which has also been a control in all Vasaloppet since 1922.

Erik Wickström’s passing time in Evertsberg was 3.37.00, just over half an hour before the 1922 passing time. The margin down to second Anders Södergren was still close to four minutes.

Sofia Lind wore a skirt, and she came to the control to Evertsberg after 4.45.00 in the company of Catrin Ingvarsson, but Catrin stopped there for a few extra minutes for equipment care.

Lundbäcksbacken, minted in 1981, released the riders in Jubileumsvasan. The track profile was a bit flatter, in other words. Instead, they went north of Oxbergssjön towards the railway station in Oxberg, where Erik Wickström, still as alert, could stop and greet the family. In Oxberg, he was 46 minutes before the time of 1922 and nine minutes before Anders Södergren.

Ernst Alm from Norsjö won the first Vasaloppet in the time 7.32.49. Now the question was: would Erik ski the Jubileumsvasan faster also than the other Vasaloppet winner Oskar Lindberg (also from Norsjö), who won in 1923 in the time of 6.32.41?

At the goal in Mora, the temperature had risen to plus three degrees, the sun was looking ahead, and the leader Erik Wickström still had a good grip, but a little worse glide and could parade waving towards the goal. The last 500 meters went the same way as in 1922. The first skier was now, just like then, met by a hand-held fanfare from the belfry and by several thousand spectators.

At the belfry, Erik Wickström also received the victory wreath from the wreath hill Wilma Björkman. He crushed Ernst Alm’s victory time but did not prevail in Oskar Lindberg’s time from 1923. Jubileumsvasan’s manual timing clocked Erik Wickström’s time in the finish to 6.57.00 (only full minutes in the race).

“It was incredibly cool with everyone cheering and fun to go, said Erik Wickström. It exceeded all expectations. It was a fun thing to be first in the finish. Anders Södergren left me on the first hill, but I had better glide with tar and wax. It suits me to go far.”

Anders Södergren, who finished second, beaten by ten minutes, was more tired, and he was allowed to lie down at the finish to recover. In 1922, the Vasaloppet was a national ski race, but there were several international participants this year. The best of them went to Tore Stengrundet from Norway, who was third in the finish.

In 1923, Margit Nordin became the first woman to ski the Vasaloppet, and her time was 10.09.42. The first woman to finish the Jubileumsvasan, Sofia Lind, finished at 8.59.00. Sofia Lind did not get a wreath, however, because they tried to imitate the first Vasaloppet from 1922 as much as possible, and then there was only one class that was open to everyone.

When Erik Wickström finished, 97 participants had passed Evertsberg. (The last man in the finish in 1922 went on 14.11.00 and was then three hours behind the next last man!) The finish in the Jubileumsvasan would, however, be open until the last participant went to the finish.

Darkness fell, and at 18.00, eleven hours after the start, 49 skiers had reached the finish line, nine had given up – but 72 were still out along the track, most of them between Oxberg and Mora.

The first three men and the first three women were celebrated after the finish. Medals were awarded to all participants.

Jubileumsvasan

 Finish – Men

  1. Erik Wickström, Hestra IF, 6.57.00
  2. Anders Södergren, Östersunds Skidlöpareklubb, 7.07.00
  3. Tore Stengrundet, Norway, 7.15.00

Finish – Women

  1. Sofia Lind, Duved, 8.59.00
  2. Catrin Ingvarsson, OK Renen, 9.21.00
  3. Ingela Gahne, XC Sthlm Ski Club, 9.44.00

All results can be seen here

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