If ever there was a "race that changed the world," it was Thomas Magnusson's 30-kilometer at Falun, Sweden, in 1974. Overnight, Magnusson became the most famous skier in the world, and what he accomplished changed the face of skiing fundamentally and permanently.
Before Falun, Magnusson gained a reputation as a tough trainer who put in enormous mileage. Rumors used to come back to us of his chomping sandwiches while continuing to ski, grudging even a feed stop. His training, logging 100-120 kilometers per day in the early season, seemed inhuman to us back then. "I remember the awe we had of Thomas Magnusson at the time of his dominance--like a dangerous bear," remarked Peter Hale, US Racing Director for Alpina, Rottefella and Madshus. "Even after he retired and other skiers, like Wassberg and Svan, came around, I never forgot the legend of Magnusson."
In a 1993 Svensk Skidsport interview, Magnusson described his famed mega-workouts. "Sure, there were lots of hours," he said. "But I had a foundation to build on, and I increased my training gradually. In the beginning, the physiologists all said I was skiing like an idiot--too hard and too much. There were supposed to be more intervals, that was what they said. When I began to get good results, everyone changed their minds. Then they said my training was the only way."
Before 1974, though, Magnusson had been hit-and-miss, possibly …