Nordic

Winning Vasaloppet in record time: Tord Asle Gjerdalen

Every Nordic skiing fan knows the name Tord Asle Gjerdalen. Sporting his trademark sunglasses, for years he’s been a fixture on the podium at ski marathons around the world. Going into this season, only one major title had eluded him: Vasaloppet. He went out and got it in an impressive record time of 3:28:18. In the following interview he tells us why it may not only be the final sprint that matters in a 90K race.

1. After so many years being close to the victory, what made the difference finally to win Vasaloppet this year?

This year we had strong wind from west, and 1cm new snow in the tracks. So, we went outside the tracks, because it was faster, but there is not so much help in staying behind another skier. That’s why Ermil (Vokuev) and I set a high pace from the start. That made it a hard race with qualities like endurance and capacity more importantly than a good finish. 

2. The last years it was always a sprint at the end – this year you had a big advantage in the finish. How did you manage to do so?

The conditions are important to a cross country race, and this year’s Vasaloppet was not for the sprinters, that was the biggest difference.

3. When was the moment where you were sure to win Vasaloppet?

I was so tired the last kilometers. I was afraid to fall, but when I came out of Moraparken with only a few hundred meters to go and couldn’t see Anton (Karlsson) or Ermil (Vokuev) behind me... then I finally knew that I will be able to make it.

4. Did you change anything in your preparation this year? If yes: what did you change?

A lot has changed, since I am no longer at Team Ragde Eiendom anymore. I have built myself a new team, and with this COVID restrictions in Norway it has been difficult for all the waxers and testers to travel with us to all the races. This makes more organizational job and more ski testing for the athletes themselves, and this made me also change my training. 

5. Which skis did you choose?

I used “normal” Speedmax 3D Classic 902 skies which I got new for this season and went for double poling. The skis have been selected and prepared for wet conditions.

6. What does it mean for you to finish in record time?

Records are for the history books. Skiers never talk about records, because it is 90% depending on the conditions and 10% on the skier’s effort. We just fight against each other’s.

7. What recommendation would you give a recreational skier for his preparation for Vasaloppet?

My recommendation is: Ski and train all you can. That will both make the training more fun and the race easier.

8. Is there anything what a novice at Vasaloppet definitely should know about the race before the start?

If you have heard it’s flat, I have to say that’s wrong. It is long and a great experience - if you are prepared. 

9. Is there anything you would recommend a novice at Vasaloppet to avoid during the race?

I would recommend to avoid skipping the nutrition in the chase for a better time. Try to eat and drink whenever it is possible instead - 50-100g sugar per hour. 

10. What has been your best experience at Vasaloppet?

Crossing the finish line this year😎