Britta Johansson Norgren won Tjejvasan 2016
Britta Johansson Norgren, Sollefteå Skidor IF, won Tjejvasan 2016 ahead of Katerina Smutná, Austria, and Julia Svan, Vansbro AIK SK. Over the past three years Britta has come in fourth, second and fourth place in Tjejvasan, but today was her first victory in the world's biggest ski race only for women.
"I value this victory very highly," said Britta.
For the fifth year in a row Tjejvasan attracted some 10,000 registered participants, which is the maximum number. Britta Johansson Norgren won this 28th Tjejvasan ahead of Katerina Smutná and Julia Svan after an exciting final spurt.
Britta set the pace for the race by quickly pulling ahead, and for a while she was alone in the lead. But the group caught up and ten skiers battled for the win on the final stretch.
The race had a thrilling finish but strongest were this winter's top Ski Classics skiers and main favourites Britta Johansson Norgren and Czech/Austrian Katerina Smutná, though they were challenged by Julia Svan.
Britta had high speed right from the start and after Hökberg she was ahead of the group.
"It's very hard to get ahead in this race. You have to keep your wits about you, bite the bullet, and not give up. I value this victory; that I turned in a good performance," said Johansson Norgren.
Earlier Britta has been, at best, second in Tjejvasan. Two years ago she lost the final spurt against Sofia Bleckur. "Sometimes you can be your own worst opponent; I felt a little like that before this race. I've looked forward to it but also been slightly anxious."
Expectations were high after four Ski Classics wins for Britta this winter.
"Of course it's a compliment that so many people believe in you. At the same time it leads to pressure and there's been a lot of media attention in the days before the race," Johansson Norgren explained.
Britta's tactic was to take action after the Hökberg checkpoint.
"I tried to pull the group along and hoped that, in Hökberg, we'd be three or four who broke free. But I ended up on my own and it felt a bit too far to ski alone the whole way. I slowed down a little and they caught up."
When the skiers approached Moraparken, and the critical moment, things got cramped.
"It's hard when too many come in at once; you can get closed off. Me and Maria (Nordström) were close and wanted the same track. It became a long spurt and you don't want to use up your last energy too quickly. I tried to wait and wait. Then when I pushed, my legs felt mute; it was just willpower that kept me going. But in the end I felt that I had it, though I heard the others very close behind."
The skiers that Britta could glimpse in the corner of her eye were Katerina Smutná and Julia Svan, who was overjoyed to snatch the third place.
After a period of illness Julia is now back on a very high level. As a junior she was third in Tjejvasan 2013.
"I thought it would be hard for me to crack the top ten today. It was a pleasant surprise when my strength came back there at the end," said Julia.
It was clear that this third place meant a lot to Svan.
"This is like a victory to me. Especially since I felt sluggish during the race. I fell behind the leading group."
But when those in the lead chose a cautious strategy, Julia caught up and took third place ahead of Åsarna IK World Cup skiers Elin Mohlin and Emma Wikén. Maria Nordström, accomplished sprinter from Ulricehamn, took the spurt prize in both Hökberg and Eldris. That strength did not hold quite all the way and Maria came in ninth place.
It remains to be seen if Britta Johansson Norgren can also win Vasaloppet 2016. Only two times has the Tjejvasan victor also won Vasaloppet the same year: Ulrica Persson in 2003 and Jenny Hansson in 2011. In Vasaloppet Britta has, these past three years, come in sixth, second and second. Right now she's leading the cross-country cup Visma Ski Classics.
Britta Johansson Norgren's winning time of 1.19.25 was the third fastest in Tjejvasan history after Susanne Nyström's record time of 1.18.30 from 2008 and Laila Kveli's 1.19.11 from 2015
Results Tjejvasan 2016
1 Britta Johansson Norgren, Sollefteå Skidor IF, 01:19:25
2 Katerina Smutná, Austria, 01:19:25
3 Julia Svan, Vansbro AIK SK, 01:19:26
4 Elin Mohlin, Åsarna IK, 01:19:27
5 Emma Wikén, Åsarna IK, 01:19:28
6 Anna Svendsen, Norway, 01:19:28
7 Sara Lindborg, Östersunds SK, 01:19:30
8 Astrid Öyre Slind, Norway, 01:19:30
9 Maria Nordström, Ulricehamns IF, 01:19:31
10 Kristina Roberto, Karlslunds IF SF, 01:19:33
Find results and statistics here:
The first prize in Tjejvasan 2016 is 50,000 SEK. The record time from 2008 still holds, which means Vasaloppet's main sponsor and official vehicle supplier Volvo gets to keep their "record car".
ICA's spurt prize in Hökberg: Maria Nordström, Ulricehamns IF, 30.17
DHL's spurt prize in Eldris: Maria Nordström, Ulricehamns IF, 56.50
Registration for Tjejvasan 2017 opens on Sunday March 20 at 09:00.
Watch SVT's broadcast on SVT Play
Watch the final spurt and SVT interviews
Vasaloppet live stream
FACTS/Tjejvasan victors through the ages
1988 Karin Värnlund, IFK Mora
1989 Marie Johansson, Dala-Järna IK
1991 Anna Frithioff, Kvarnsvedens GoIF
1992 Anna Frithioff, Kvarnsvedens GoIF
1993 Carina Görlin, Hudiksvalls IF
1994 Marie Helene Östlund, Hudiksvalls IF
1995 Marie Helene Östlund, Hudiksvalls IF
1996 Kerrin Petty, IFK Moras SK
1997 Karin Öhman, Stockviks Skidförening
1998 Bente Martinsen, Norway
1999 Elin Ek, Bergeforsens SK
2000 Annika Evaldsson, IFK Mora SK
2001 Anita Moen, Norway
2002 Emelie Öhrstig, Stockviks Skidförening
2003 Ulrica Persson, SK Bore
2004 Hilde G Pedersen, Norway
2005 Sofia Bleckur, IK Jarl
2006 Elin Ek, IFK Mora SK
2007 Susanne Nyström, Piteå Elit SK
2008 Susanne Nyström, Piteå Elit SK
2009 Susanne Nyström, Piteå Elit SK
2010 Susanne Nyström, IFK Mora SK
2011 Jenny Hansson, Östersunds SK
2012 Susanne Nyström, Laisvalls SK
2013 Susanne Nyström, Laisvalls SK
2014 Sofia Bleckur, IFK Mora SK
2015 Laila Kveli, Norway
2016 Britta Johansson Norgren, Sollefteå Skidor IF
More Vasaloppet facts can be found in Vasaloppet's new Facts Guide 2016 (In Swedish only):
Events in the Vasaloppet Arena
Vasaloppet Winter Week 2016
Fri 26 Feb: Kortvasan. 30 km. Start Oxberg.
Sat 27 Feb: Tjejvasan. 30 km. Start Oxberg.
Sun 28 Feb: Ungdomsvasan. 3, 5, 7 or 9 km. Start Mora Ski Stadium.
Sun 28 Feb: Öppet Spår Sunday. 90 km. Start Sälen. (10,000 entries. FULL 26/9/2015)
Mon 29 Feb: Öppet Spår Monday. 90 km. Start Sälen.
Tue 1 Mar: Halvvasan. 45 km. Start Oxberg.
Fri 4 Mar: Stafettvasan. 9–24 km. Five-person teams. Start Sälen. (10,000 entries. FULL 25/11/2015)
Sat 5 Mar: Öppet Spår 9 km. 9 km. Start Eldris.
Sun 6 Mar: Vasaloppet. 90 km. Start Sälen. (15,800 entries. FULL 22/3/2015.)
Vasaloppet Summer Week 2016
Fri 12 Aug: Cykelvasan 30. 32 km. Start Oxberg.
Fri 12 Aug: Ungdomscykelvasan. 32 km. Start Oxberg.
Fri 12 Aug: Cykelvasan 45. 45 km. Start Oxberg.
Fri 12 Aug: Cykelvasan Öppet Spår. 94 km. Start Sälen.
Sat 13 Aug: Cykelvasan 90. 94 km. Start Sälen. (13,000 entries. FULL 18/12/2015)
Sat 20 Aug: Ultravasan 45. 45 km. Start Oxberg.
Sat 20 Aug: Ultravasan 90. 90 km. Start Sälen.
Sat 20 Aug: Vasastafetten. 4.5–15 km. Running relay race for ten-person teams. Start Sälen.
High resolution images from Tjejvasan
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Vasaloppet is the world's biggest organizer of recreational races, all year round and a part of En Svensk Klassiker. Vasaloppet's Winter Week with its cross-country skiing and the Summer Week with mountain bike cycling and running attract a total of almost 100,000 registered participants every year. Since the beginning in 1922 over one million participants have passed under the classic finish portal in Mora. Vasaloppet is a non-profit making organization owned by IFK Mora and Sälens IF. An engine for public health and organizational activities, in the footsteps of our forefathers for the victories of tomorrow!