In 1973, a small group of Mora volunteers and 96 skiers gathered in a farm field in northern Kanabec County for the first Vasaloppet cross county ski race.
Renown for its hometown hospitality and volunteer spirit, the Vasaloppet, which has a self-imposed limit of 3,000 skiers, now offers eight races: the Vasa, the Classic, the Dala, the Bell Ringer, the Team, Fat Tire, Skijoring, and the Miniloppet.
The four Vasaloppet races (Sweden, USA, Japan and China) have formed an International Vasaloppet Skiing Exchange designed to promote not only the four races, but to foster a better understanding of different cultures and every three years an International Vasaloppet Skiing Conference and cultural exchange is held in one of the countries.
Today, the race finishes in downtown Mora thanks to the cooperation of city street crews who perform the oddest of Minnesota winter tasks of dumping snow back onto the town’s main street. The ability to finish in Mora is also possible due to the cooperation of over 100 landowners who give permission for the race courses to cross their land.
The USA Vasaloppet’s historic point-to-point race course from Warman to Mora was only made possible by the cooperation of over 100 landowners who gave permission for the trails to cross their land. Due to the consistent lack of natural snow, in 2016 the Vasaloppet began making snow and has expanded the network of trails surrounding the Nordic Center so the race now begins and ends in downtown Mora.
The gently rolling wooded countryside doesn’t present steep hills, which may please large number of touring skiers, but for serious and elite racers the course profile translates into a start to finish sprint with few opportunities to rest downhill or make break-away move uphill.
But it’s the atmosphere of the race that skiers say keeps them coming back as the Mora community somehow converts its volunteer spirit and hospitality into a tangible presence. In all, this race takes the effort of nearly 700 volunteers on race day and who work year-round on the thousands of details that require attention.