Evolution of Skiing – Events

Gällivare-Malmberget has a proud history of organizing large ski events.

We explain all of the World Cup events that have been successfully done on Dundret, in other places on this site.

From the fantastic events of the Ingemar Stenmark era, when 20,00 spectators flocked to Dundret to see the elite compete on the powder, to the World Cup cross-country events, everything has been a resounding success to the Gällivare-Malmberget organizers.

A precursor to the great alpine events of 1983 (like the one mentioned above) were the annual Lapland Cup races, which began in 1960 chock full of world class skiers. These races were organized by Malmberget AIF and Gällivare SK, and sports journalists almost came to blows determining who would get to attend them. There are many other events worth mentioning as well, especially the Swedish Ski Championship organized by Malmberget AIF, Gällivare SK and Koskullskulle AIF in 1974. During this contest, only cross-country and downhill were offered. The idea was that Koskullskulle AIF would arrange a hill, but Freyabacken was not approved as the Swedish contest hill.

The author himself was on location during the SM week, and saw a future alpine star in the making. It was the phenomenon known as Ingemar Stenmark, who stepped into the spotlight during this time. The SM slalom run would take place on Soldalsbacken on Dundret. The young Stenmark, also known as the “Mountain Wind”, threw himself onto the powder without a safety net, and danced his way through the poles. We who stood at the foot of the hill were blown away by Ingemar’s rampage down the slope. Compared to the other riders, there was a whole new dimension to his skiing.
He took the gold in an impressive way, and celebrated his eighteenth birthday at the same time. A star was born.

A Gällivare native was also celebrated during this tournament. Hard-driving GSK-girl Pia Gustafsson took the gold in the giant slalom, and went on to win four national championships. The legendary Thomas Magnusson took all the gold on the cross-country tracks up on Malmberget, but it didn’t go as well for the women of Norrbotten.
However, the competition was a huge success, and had a lasting effect on Swedish skiing, thanks in large part to the leadership of Wilmar Johansson.

The SM contest in 1960 was also a huge financial success for the organizing club, Gällivare SK. There was sunshine on both days of the event, and over 3000 paying spectators on the slopes, which provided much needed money for the development of the sport.

There was also an alpine SM at Dundret in 1978, where Ingemar Stenmark took gold twice, though some noticed that he wasn’t his usual self. It turns out, a lost car key was what was bothering him.

Dundret, in fact, is one of the biggest SM organizers in the country. They’ve hosted it fourteen times: 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1981.1985, 1989, 1990, 1999, 2002, and 2004. Some years, there has only been one class, such as in 1962, 1974, 1985, 1990, 1999 and 2002.

A particularly interesting story occurred during the SM competition in 1990, when a photo from the talented Gunnar Westergren at Piteå-Tidningen came to decide the entire contest. The situation was as follows: Jonas Nilsson, who had won the World Cup in slalom in Bormio in 1985, had his run down Dundret. He stood waiting for Fredrik Nyberg, who was leading after his first run. When “Freddie” took the gate at Högåsen, Jonas saw that he straddled a pole during his run. Nyberg passed the goal line with the winning time and was awarded gold, but Nilsson’s coaches protested. The jury spoke to the race officials, who concluded that Nyberg had done nothing wrong.
This is where the photographer Gunnar Westergren intervened, as he had photographed Fredrik Nyberg at that precise moment. He went down to Gällivare, had the film developed, and returned in an hour with a photo that clearly showed Nyberg straddling the pole. It’s said that Nyberg himself didn’t notice, but it was proven, and Nilsson received his rightful medal. Gunnar has repeatedly told the author that this was the best photo of his career, and it’s easy to see why.

1976 saw the Alpine Junior competition in Gällivare, and in 1995 the clubs organized a Cross-Country Junior competition on Dundret, the likes of which had never been seen before in Norrbotten.

Photo: Yngve Johansson, imega promotion

Thobias Fredriksson took Sweden’s only medal, bronze for the 10 km classic. Later, Thobias became a household name as an Olympic champion for the cross-country sprint. The World Junior championships also showcased the talent of Per Elofsson from Umeå. The pressure got to him somewhat, and he placed 36th in the 10 km classic, and 7th as part of the relay team. However, Elofsson was crowned junior world champion at Asiago the following year for the same distance.
2002 saw a well-rounded competition at Dundret, with cross-country, downhill, ski jump, snowboarding and Nordic skiing all offered in the program. One of the most crowd-pleasing moments was when local favourite Lina Andersson won the 5km in impressive fashion.

This is but a snapshot of the major ski events in Gällivare-Malmberget and Dundret, but it gives a good idea of the competitions that have been arranged, and that will be in the future. A tradition to be proud of, that will continue into the future.

Håkan Svensson (text)


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