Vasaloppet isn’t a matter of VO2max

Stian Hoelgaard at the finish after Vasaloppet 2017. Photo: Ski Classics
Stian Hoelgaard (NOR) shares his best Vasaloppet advice. Photo: Ski Classics

Get the inside tips on how to prepare for the 90km classic race from Sälen to Mora.

“There are two things that make or break Vasaloppet, and it’s not your endurance or your VO2max. It’s your ability to work manage pain and fatigue and staying mentally focused,” says Stian Hoelgaard (NOR), who was on the Vasaloppet podium both in 2016 and 2017.

His top advice is to find small partial goals along the way and make sure you stay fueled and hydrated the whole time.

“Find something to look forward to along the way, and take advantage of the feed stations. It’s fun to arrive there, and always lots of people cheering,” he says.

In addition to the race supported aid stations, the pro teams have feed stations every five kilometers, and you should too.

“Most people will run out of fuel in Vasaloppet, but make sure it doesn’t happen before the finish line. That means feeding frequently and start taking feeds early,” Hoelgaard says.

The short rule is that you cant skimp on fueling for the first 80 kilometers, but if you feel great when you get to the last feed station and your battling for positions, you can consider passing it. But be aware that you can go from fine to fatal in a couple of minutes at this point in the race.

Equally important as food, make sure you have good skis that fit your weight, technique and skill level.

“Your performance and experience is totally dependent on good skis. If you are using kick wax, its worth it to stop and adjust the wax if conditions change,” Hoelgaard says.

The pro teams generally use double-pole specific skis designed for max speed and propulsion without kick wax, but Vasaloppet was won on kick wax as late as 2012. And have you considered the new Redline Intelligrip skin skis?

Check out the selection here

Stay tuned for more advice on how to attack the course, kilometer by kilometer.