Aussie is Sweden’s Santa champion

Aussie is Sweden's Santa champion
An Australian man emerged from the chimney victorious on Sunday to round off the international Santa Games in Gällivare.

Santa of the year Dave Downey was awarded a gold medal and a hand-crafted sculpture of the bearded bearer of gifts at the end of the fifth annual Snöyran snow show.

After much intensive training, Dave Downey arrived in the northern Swedish town fully prepared for the five events that make up the Santa Claus pentathlon: chimney climbing, reindeer racing, kick sled, porridge eating and Santa’s Christmas Eve.

And it was third time lucky for the Aussie Father Christmas, who readily admitted that he had not been up to the challenge in previous years.

“Last year I fell off the reindeer and got porridge stuck in my beard,” Downey told The Local.

Like Kenyan runners training at high altitude, Downey may have given himself that extra edge by priming his talent in hotter climes. But with a shortage of reindeer at his disposal, he had to resort to desperate measures.

“It would have been great to train in the snow with reindeer but I ended up using kangaroos in the sun. It worked but the ride was a bit rockier,” he said.

According to Santa’s Secretary and tournament organizer Elisabeth Landby, Downey needed to pull out all the stops in the final event to defeat prospective Santas from “places like Poland, Estonia and a wildcard from Gällivare”.

“He really impressed during the chimney climbing, where he got good points for style. He was also very good with the children,” she told The Local.

Buoyed by his victory, the stylish Aussie is determined to cement his reputation as a Santa to be reckoned with.

“I’m a Santa inside now and I’ll be back next year to defend my title,” he said.