During the polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld’s second Greenland expedition in 1883, two of the participants, both Sami men from the Jokkmokk mountains, explored the ice covered continent’s inner unknown regions. They skied 460 kilometers in 57 hours. Upon his return, nobody believed what Nordenskiöld said about their achievement. It was considered an impossible feat. To prove his tales were true, Nordenskiöld announced a skiing race in 1884 taking place between Jokkmokk and Kvikkjokk and back, a distance of 220 kilometers. Nordenskiöld believed that distance could be covered within 24 hours.
Eighteen Samis and settlers took part in the race. The winner, Pavva-Lasse Nilsson Tuorda, crossed the finish line after 21 hours and 22 minutes and Nordenskiöld’s scientific honor was restored.
The ski race took place on April 3rd 1884 and started at Purkijaurholmen outside Jokkmokk. The best skiers of Norrbotten used skis that were 210-300 centimeters long and 8-12 centimeters wide to be able to cope with the trackless ski conditions. The skis weighed around three times more than today’s racing skis. It turned out to be the toughest and most demanding race in the history of the sport. The race generated interest in international media – but nobody has repeated the feat since.