World Record attempt: Skiing more than 470 km in a day

Teemu Virtanen (FIN) will attack the 500 km barrier in Stockholm’s Stadium in 2022.

Teemu Virtanen is aiming to take back the World Record in 24-hour Cross Country Skiing, which is now held by another Finn, Hans Mäenpää, at the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm next winter. The goal is to add up around 1200 laps on the running track to pass the current record of 472 km, all in one day! As part of his preparation, the 53-year-old is about to roller-ski 1 600 km from Hanko, Finland’s southernmost point, to Utsjoki, the northernmost point.

The arena in the Swedish capital

If temperatures drop low enough to allow artificial snow production, the 400 m long running tracks inside the Stadium, initially built for the Olympic Summer Games 1912, become well-appreciated skiing tracks. Almost any time of the day the loop attracts numerous amateur skiers from the Stockholm area who round the football pitch to train mile after mile for upcoming long-distance races across the country. However, no one ever has added up the world record distance of 1180 laps in just one session over 24 hours.

“If the conditions are perfect, the service works according to our plan and I have a great day, I think I have a fighting chance to break the record!” says Teemu Virtanen.

Preparation is already in full swing
The Finn already wanted to attack the record back in Winter 2019/20, but warm temperatures unfortunately stopped his endeavor. Having more or less been locked down at home in Lahtis (FIN) ever since, Teemu has been in full on training mode and skied no less than incredible 6 500 km during the last winter. As his only competition in 2021, Teemu finished 9th in the elite race of Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet, completing the 220 km of the world’s longest ski race in 12:17:23.

To break the record on February 19, 2022, Virtanen needs to step up the pace. The attempt in Stockholm will require that he skis almost 1200 laps inside Stadion. In order to succeed, he not only need to keep an average speed of 20 km/h (3 min/km). He will have to start at an even higher pace while the body still is fresh as the speed is expected to drop over time, mainly due to fatigue. This opens up for another record along the way.

Den norska rekordmann Andreas Nygaard

If everything goes as planned, Virtanen is going to log the first 220 km in less than 10 hours. A yet to accomplish feat over the distance of Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet. Norwegian long-distance professional Andreas Nygaard holds the current track record in Jokkmokk since winning the race in 11:48:07 in 2017. Many believe that skiing 220 km in less than 10 hours would be somewhat of a dream barrier to break. A group of pace makers will take turns to help Virtanen to keep the tempo up.

The names behind the record
Teemu Virtanen however has proved before that he both can ski for a long time and distance. Already in 2010 he set a world record by skiing 433 km in 24 hours. Only few skiers have since then managed to ski longer within a day. In 2016 Swedish cross-country profile Erik Wickström got 5 km beyond but it should be Hans Mäenpää to literally crush both records with a new official best mark of incredible 472 km done on home turf in Levi 2018! Now Teemu Virtanen is determined to get back his record.

Erik Wickström in Jokkmokk 2017

The length of Finland
Before that happens, another tough journey awaits Teemu as he as of June 10 starts to roller ski through the whole country Finland from south to north. “The initial plan is to ski about 100 miles per day. Naturally, the weather and the conditions of the roads play a huge part in a challenge like this. Regardless, my goal is to finish this well before Midsummer,” Virtanen sheds light on the event. “This undertaking obviously is a great preparation for the upcoming World Record attempt. Additionally, I want to encourage and inspire all skiers to train well over the summer and to promote ultra-skiing, which isn’t yet overly popular in cross-country skiing. Roller-skiing is the best possible training method for skiers,” he continues enthusiastically.

Teemu Virtanen’s upcoming world record attempt
Date: 19/20 February 2022
Start time: 10:00 CET
Place: Stockholm Stadion, Sweden

Record history
476,180 km – Eirik Asdøl in Asker (NOR), 2021 (inofficiellt, blandad teknik)
472.007 km – Hans Mäenpää in Levi (FIN), 2018
438.575 km – Erik Wickström in Vålådalen (SWE), 2016 (inofficiellt)
433.459 km – Teemu Virtanen in Kuortane (FIN), 2010
415.500 km – Seppo-Juhani Savolainen (FIN), 1988