Evolution of Skiing – Slalom

When the World Cup was held for the first and only time in Norrbotten, it happened on Dundret, together with the Top of Europe Trophy.

Mats Hillblom/imega television

The year was 1983, and the competition that took place on February 26th and 27th were, simply put, a massive success.
20,000 enthusiastic spectators lined the tracks at Dundret, and over the course of two unforgettable days watched the greatest alpine skiers in the world ski, lead by Ingemar Stenmark (giant slalom) and Marc Girardelli (slalom). It was a huge athletic event in Norrbotten, with audience voting and an atmosphere reminiscent of the big ski resorts down in the Alps.

The Swedish success was unprecedented, with King Ingemar Stenmark’s enormous performance during Saturday’s giant slalom, and many Swedes on the leaderboard for Sunday’s slalom competition. After Marc Girardelli, the slalom winner, there were five Swedes in the top eleven: Stig Strand (2nd), Ingemar Stenmark (3rd), Bengt Fjällberg (7th), Jörgen Sundqvist (8th), and Lars-Göran Halvarsson (11th). A landmark World Cup performance for Swedish alpine sports.

Everyone was happy with the fantastic organization of the contest, which was ran by Malmberget AIF and Gällivare SK. After the competition, colourful World Cup founder Serge Lang exclaimed: “Just call if you want more competitions at Dundret, in Sweden.”

The media were all over the event, especially those who worked for Sweden’s newspapers. Their coverage of the events, before, during, and after, was detailed and thorough. There was even a special Sunday edition to cover the afterparty at Dundret. Incidentally, this intense coverage had begun a few days earlier, in Stenmark’s hometown of Tärnaby. They had also hosted the historic World Cup in the winter of 1983, and the skiers were flown by special charter flight from Tärnaby to Gällivare.

Mats Hillblom/imega television

This author was there for the entire experience, and it was a very memorable event for a Norrbotten sports writer. I remember that I followed Stig Strand for the entire day, from cabin 54 at Dundret to the turns of the slalom run, describing everything that happened from early morning to late evening for the magazines.
Stig Strand, who finished in an impressive second place after Marc Girardelli, luckily defeated his good friend Ingemar Stenmark. The press photographers loved the competition, in which so much happened. Some were even lucky enough to catch Stenmark himself as he was on his way by. It was as he passed Högåsen that it happened. A murmur ran through the densely packed crowd on Dundret.
“I was down and out, and put my hands down, but I guess I didn’t lose too much time after all,” stated “Stenis”, who finished before Max Julen (from Switzerland), Phil Mahre and fourth place finisher Johan Wallner (from Sweden).

The World Cup win was Stenmark’s 72nd, another triumph in a long and glittering career. It was the perfect note to start the event on, the crowd favourite taking the first race. A local boy also had his big break at Dundret. Jörgen Sundqvist, a Norrbottning from Arvidsjaur, came eleventh in the giant slalom and eighth in the slalom.

There were quite a few people in important leadership roles, including Lennart Hagstedt of the World Cup Committee, CEO Göran Remahl, and last but not least, race director and ski enthusiast Rune Törngren who worked hard in many different aspects of the competition. “I’m happy that everything went so well,” beamed Törngren.

Afterwards, the competition was widely praised, from Serge Lange, the larger-than-life World Cup boss, to the superstars of skiing, to veteran broadcaster Sven “Plex” Pettersson who commentated the entire event live. “These contents are ranked very highly. Let’s see how Gällivare makes it happen,” Plex says of his thoughts when the competition was announced. “Now I know, they made it happen in a glorious way.”.

The 1983 World Cup was a milestone for alpine sports in Norrbotten. It was also an event of note for Dundret, which had been hosting slalom competitions since the first one in Soldalen in the 30s. This was a colossal event, followed by cross-country World Cup contests, but unfortunately no more slalom races.

Hosting the World Cup in 1983 provided good economic opportunities, strengthened club activities, and put Malmberget AIF and Gällivare SK in the position to pick up and develop new talent.

Photo: SCANPIX/Ingvar Karmhed.

One of which went on to become the best in the world.
Naturally, it’s Thomas Fogdö of Gällivare SK, who was the world slalom champion in 1993. His talent was noticed early on by both the head instructor and Håkan Åsell, Gällivare’s passionate coach. It was incredible to be in Åre when he took the title, and to follow his career throughout the years.

Thomas Fogdö was the ideal ambassador for Dundret over the course of his brilliant career, which was tragically cut short on February 7th, 1995. Fogdö was training in Åre when he had an accident which broke his back, paralyzing him from the waist down. Ever the fighter, Fogdö refused to succumb to his circumstances, and became a psychologist, author and motivational speaker. He also started a foundation that provides financial aid to injured athletes.

Dundret and Gällivare have nurtured many skiing stars over the years. Thomas Fogdö is one name in a list that also includes Mauritz “Marre” Lindström, Hans Bergman, Pia Gustafsson, Monica Aija, Inger Köhler, and Anna Boden. The biggest name in Gällivare today is Anton Lahdenperä, a slalom rider at the highest levels of the World Cup who was inspired by none other than Thomas Fogdö.

Håkan Svensson (text)


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