The first day of the reindeer race is over, and it was truly a great experience! Eight persons from different parts of Sweden participated. The event started with with four qualifier races, then two semi-finals where the winners of the qualifiers raced against each other – and then the final with the winners of the semi-finals.
I started in the third qualifier, racing against Björn Uglem – who arrived dressed in a traditional Eskimo outfit (including a face mask!) which created a lot of curiosity and many fascinated smiles. A lot of people wanted to take photos of him, and he put on a good show with throat singing and dancing for the audience. The race itself provided a lot more action than I had expected, with the reindeer in front of me kicking up snow and ice into my face – making it difficult to see anything. I held my head and face down, just trying to avoid falling off the sled. I could see that it was a completely even race, with Björn racing right to the left of me. I was not able to see anything when we crossed the goal line, but I was told that I won by a few decimeters so I moved on to the semi-final round.
After a quick interview, I watched the fourth qualifier – and then it was time for my next race. This time, I raced against a woman from Lidingö, who got a much better start – leaving me far behind. Once again, I didn’t see much of the race myself, because of the snow and ice hitting my face. But I managed to reach the goal line in two races without falling off, and I couldn’t be more happy about that!
My semi-final opponent lost her final against Bengt Hultberg from Vetlanda, southern Sweden, in another very even race. And after seven races, the first day of reindeer races at the Jokkmokk winter market 2014 came to an end, with Bengt Hultberg recieving a trophy made of reindeer antlers.
Thanks to the organizers for a great event, it was one of the most exciting winter market adventures in many years for me. See the slideshow above for photos from the races, and a photo of the amazing dress that Björn Uglem used. And thanks to Björn for participating with me, and for letting me borrow his beautiful jacket, hat and gloves for the race.
Now, the first day of the main market is coming to an end, and the evening activites are about to start. I will be heading home to get some rest, as tomorrow will be another long day. The plan for tomorrow is to focus on the main market area, the reindeer rajd, exciting food experiences and events at Ájtte museum (including a speech by Björn Uglem).