Mora, MN—The 2013 Mora Vasaloppet Ski Race and surrounding activities have come to a wintry conclusion. A week before race day, the snow was disappearing quickly so the planners made the decision to change the course to include more laps on a lake, with portions on the traditional wooded trails. A heavy snow on race day, Sunday, February 10 provided skiers with a winter wonderland environment, plus forceful winds and tracks that filled in with blowing snow as soon as the previous skier has gone ahead. Most skiers said conditions were fast, but they struggled to see while on the lake.

The traditional Vasaloppet in Sweden - this year on Sunday, March 3 - in Sweden is a huge event with over 15,000 skiers (Counting all races during the week-long event it's closer to 70,000). Some time ago and somewhat toungue-in-cheek, a journalist even suggested it as the new National Day, Vasaloppet, a better national holiday?


The Mora community doubles in size with the addition of skiers who come from all over the U.S. and around the world, including Sweden, home of the original Vasaloppet founded in 1922. Participants are hosted by local families, establishing long-term relationships as many choose to stay at the same host homes each year.

Other activities include a pancake breakfast, an Italian supper, a dance and the production of the “Vasa Trail Companion,” a live radio show with music, Mora Vasaloppet history acknowledging its 1973 founding date, special musical guests, sound effects and sketches.

An art show is always hosted by the Kanabec County Arts Association, and this year there were special guest performers from the Mora school arts residency programs. An arts collaboration in the areas of music, dance and textile design resulted in a modern dance performance by elementary children, who were clothed in recycled materials as they performed “Chance Dance.” Some wore Christmas garlands glued to rose colored garbage bags; others had hats made of colored bottles; duct tape figured significantly as an adhesive, and aluminum foil added flash and sparkle. “Chance Dance” meant that someone rolled the dice, and whatever number came to the top indicated which piece of music would be used for the dance.

Another collection of art was unveiled by the Vasaloppet Headquarters. Sculptor Keith Raivo created three large stone rune stones with runic messages and images carved into each piece. The funding came from FORECAST Public Artworks. The “Chance Dance” collaboration received funding through the East Central Regional Arts Council with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, a legacy from the people of Minnesota to its State.
Skiing continues in Mora as four students in the high school qualified to go to the state cross country ski meet. The team has grown in number and skill, and now other schools that compete against them say, “It’s like going up against the Roman Empire.”

Text and photography: Valerie Arrowsmith

For more info on the Swedish race, see Vasaloppet and the U.S. Vasaloppet USA Similar races are held in Canada, China and Japan.

Skiers navigate through large snow flakes at the 2013 Vasaloppet in Mora, MN.

The Kranskulla and her assistants greeted each skier as they crossed the Vasaloppet finish line in Minnesota on February 10.

Main Street in Mora, MN was heavily covered by fresh snow during the course of the 2013 Vasaloppet ski race.

Mora, MN offers a quartet of competitions such as biking, canoeing, running and skiing. These banners announce the other competition components as skiers make their final drive to reach Main Street in downtown Mora during the Vasaloppet Ski Race.

Vasaloppet skiers covered the final stretch on Lake Mora before scrambling up the hill near the Swedish Bell Tower, and then making their way to Main Street and the finish line. The lake environment was enveloped with white, with eye-crusting and glasses fogging blowing snow.

Wisconsin skier Steve Pearson was ready for a warming cup of blueberry soup at the finish line after completing the 35K Vasaloppet Ski Race in Mora, MN on February 10. He said the wind was a big challenge, but the snow was beautiful.