China dedicates museum to skiing

29th June 2011, by Chris Gill

Vasaloppet, China

Vasaloppet, China

China has its first ski-themed museum, opened earlier this year in Changchun in the north-east of the country and much of it based on an old Swedish nordic race.

The Vasaloppet museum project is supported by the Vasaloppet headquarters in Sweden and the International Ski Federations in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Investment in the Chinese exhibition hall is reported to be 30 million yuan (or about $5 million). There’s a collection of old skis from Norway and China, as well as other iconic equipment. There are eight sections in the main exhibition hall, each one depicting some part of the Vasaloppet race history.

Our associations with cross-country skiing would normally focus on the Scandinavian countries, for which is it a way of life in winter – and more popular than downhill skiing. In the Alps, most resorts offer some sort of facility, and there are areas where it is now very well-developed. Think China, and cross-country ski races perhaps would not feature on our radars; but the Chinese have embraced this particular race with lots of enthusiasm.

The Vasaloppet is a long-distance nordic ski race and commemorates a 16th century Swedish king, Gustav Vasa, who led a rebellion against Denmark. Much of it took place on skis, hence the inspiration for the modern race that first took place in 1922. Competitors ski a gruelling 90km distance between Sälen and Mora in Sweden. Over 15,000 skiers take part in the annual March event that has now extended to Japan, the US and China.

China’s first Vasaloppet race took place in 2003 and is run over a 50km distance. The museum is the first step to display a little piece of nordic ski history.

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