Fourhundred and forty-fourth åsic- Vasaloppet, a Swedish ski race for the entire nation!

#asaole, #vasaloppet, #2017When I watch cultural events on TV from other countries where some of my students come from, such as India, Pakistan,Bangladesh, Irak, Iran or Somalia, I note both similarities and differences. There are places and situations I find exotic and extraordinary, partly because of differences in climate or weather conditions, but also because of living conditions in general. This blogpost gives you an example of what people do for fun in the far north country of Sweden. If you are used to crowded places in markets or fairs, if you commute daily for a job in the City, this is the blogpost for you! This is about being in a crowd… 🙂

#asaole, #vasaloppets-logga

A long tradition of skiing in Sweden has its peak the first Sunday of March each year… I talk about the long distance ski race called Vasaloppet, held in the memory of King Gustav I of Vasa. This is the 93rd time this race is held and this year’s race has approximately 15,000 participants. Ever since 1922, when the first race was held, more and more participants have been added each year. Skiing is a sport with long tradition in Sweden and many famous skiers come from our country.

Being good at skiing is not the only factor for winning a race like Vasaloppet. You also need to have a very strong will, since the distance of 90km is too far to just do ”for fun”. Many of the elite skiers race under five hours, but most of the other participants, need 5-12 hours to get to finish in Mora. The absolutely slowest ski racers are called ”blueberries” blåbär in Swedish, and the connotation for the word is not merely a berry, but a person who is doing something as best as she/he can, but not in a professional way on elite level.

During my lifetime I have always watched Vasaloppet, but only once have I been there on the site. Then I was merely a child and I remember we were in Evertsberg, watching all the ski-runners passing by reaching out for our cups of blueberry soup. I know that through the years the food and drinks have changed to sports beverages and other kinds of food, but traditionally one would have blueberry soup, so why break the tradition? I always stick to blueberry soup…

ekstroms-blabarssoppa_ola#blueberry soup, #vasaloppsfrukost_ola

Vasaloppet is possible to follow on national TV each year. I would say I am worse than the blueberries in the race, since MY tradition each year is very far from ski racing 90 km in the cold winter… Instead my tradition is to WATCH this on TV! 🙂 Every year, many others do just what I do! Last year, 2016, 37% of the Swedish viewers watched Vasaloppet on TV, that is 3 509,000 people! Mind there are only approximately ten million people in Sweden… An ordinary Vasaloppet-Sunday, I would watch the start, then I would eat blueberry soup while listening to all the many interviews with people involved in the race, both those who race to win and those who definitely just do it for fun …

I am always amazed that people volunteer to actually ski this far! 90 km is way too far to ME anyway! Another thing I find interesting is the fact that it is very crowded in the ski-tracks. I think of situations that these people would avoid during working hours. They would try very hard to commute earlier than the crowd, choose alternative routes to avoid long backed-up lanes on their way to the city of Stockholm, but on their day off of work, they line up for skiing, in a huge crowd with 15,000 skiers…

#vasaloppet, #starten 2017, #asaole#vasaloppet, #starten 2017, #asaole

There are participants from other parts of the world, although most of the skiers are Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish. The little town of Mora, where the ski runners finally reach their goal has a ”sister” in the USA. Mora in Minnesota is far away, but just like many other American cities the name has its origin somewhere else in the world. Are you from Mora in the USA? Maybe you will be the next year’s winner? 😉

I cannot help but admire them! First for skiing this far at all, secondly for doing so early in the morning on a Sunday, thirdly for skiing in such a crowd, and last but not least for skiing such a long time… Altogether it’s amazing!



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