History

Vasaloppet’s history is also a part of Swedish history. It’s exciting, interesting, and historically important with everything from bloodbaths to friendship and heroic deeds! Here’s a brief background introduction. And here too, at your leisure, you can also browse and dip into more information about unique races, all the winners, and much more. Enjoy!!

Vasaloppet’s history begins already in 1520. Then Sweden was in a union with Denmark. Discontent with the Danish king was great, not least from Gustav Eriksson Vasa, whose opposition had resulted in his being imprisoned in Denmark. But the 24 year old Gustav managed to escape. After landing south of Kalmar in the spring of 1520 he began a long and dangerous march north. On his way, Gustav urged farmers and villagers to revolt against the Danish authorities, but to no avail. He then set his hopes on Dalarna, where the people were known to be tough and resolute, seldom giving way to decisions of authorities and kings. Gustav was hunted throughout Dalarna by the pursuing Danes, but the people sheltered and protected him from King Christian's soldiers.

After a month fleeing through Dalarna, Gustav stood outside the church in Mora and spoke to the crowd. Only weeks before, his father and his brother together with some 80 other magnates had been beheaded in "Stockholm's bloodbath". Gustav asked how long they could accept such atrocities and urged them to take up arms. But the people wanted to confer with the neighbouring villages before deciding on war. The Danes were in close pursuit and, before he could get the answer he wanted, Gustav was forced to take to his skis and continue his flight west towards Norway.

A few days later news of King Christian's brutal ravages throughout Sweden reached Mora, the people regretting then that they had not immediately supported Gustav. Mora's two best skiers, Lars and Engelbrekt, sent in hot pursuit of the fugitive Gustav Vasa, caught up with him in Sälen. Gustav was persuaded to return with them to Mora to lead the fight against King Christian.

In 1521, with the men from Dalarna at the head, Gustav began his battle. It took two and half years before the war was over and Sweden was a free land. On 6 June 1523 at a national assembly in Strängnäs, Gustav Eriksson Vasa was elected king of a free Sweden. Now he is a symbol for the world's biggest ski competition - Vasaloppet!

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