It’s Vasaloppet USA race week. The trails are groomed, skis waxed and soup stop volunteers are well-stocked with blueberry soup. But are visitors ready to cheer? See below for the Kanabec County Times’ top tips to enjoying the Saturday and Sunday’s race day events —even if you don’t ski.
Race day tips for spectators and visitors
1. Gear up
Temperatures during race weekend are predicted to be ideal — in the mid 20’s which is cold enough to keep the snow firm but not so cold to make it unpleasant. Still, wear a warm hat, mittens and especially warm footwear. Nothing chills the toes like standing on snow and cold sidewalks.
2. Bring a bell
Bells are the best way to cheer on skiers while saving your voice. If you don’t have a bell, you can buy one on Union Street at Vasaloppet Headquarters or keep it traditional with lots of shouting and clapping.
3. Pick a good viewing spot
The best locations to watch the skiers are:
The start and finish line on Union Street, Mora is bound to be the most action-packed spot. Not only are there lots of skiers to watch, the brightly dressed Kranskulla’s (wreath girls) are a cheery bunch to witness. For the casual spectator, many downtown businesses and restaurants will gladly welcome visitors looking to warm up, do a little shopping or grab a hot meal.
Known to many local skiers as “The Fingers” or “Vasa Hills” this section of the trail winds back and forth —all within view of a nearby field. This area has a large, designated parking area that is easy to access. Take Highway 65 north about two miles, and turn west onto 220th Ave. You will see the parking area on the south side of the road.
The Nordic Center
The Nordic Center is easily accessible by car, but can be a little busy with volunteers operating a soup stop. Be advised the ski trail crosses the 9th Street. Drivers can avoid it by approaching the Nordic Center from the west along 9th Street.
A lot of skier action happens near the Mora Public Library as this is the lap point for many ski races. It shows a long view of skiers headed across the lake to the sound of the Bell Tower, while still being close enough to downtown to grab lunch. Need a break? The Mora Public Library basement is the location of this year’s Vasaloppet Art Show. It’s a great place to rest, warm up and see the works of local artists.
4. Celebrate with evening entertainment
After Saturday’s races, get ready to celebrate! At 7 p.m. see the free Vasaloppet Radio Hour variety show at the Paradise Theatre (just one block south of the Celebration Tent). At 8 p.m., the post-race party begins with drinks and a live band, The Covers, in the Celebration Tent.