Swedes win thrilling ski marathon

Jörgen Brink and Susanne Nyström of Sweden won the respective men's and women's events in the annual 90 kilometre Vasaloppet ski race on Sunday.

Swedes win thrilling ski marathon

Brink’s time of 4:02:59 was matched by Daniel Tynell, also of Sweden, but Brink’s skis slid past the finish line first. Coming third was Stanislav Rezac of the Czech Republic, at 04:03:02.

Susanne Nyström secured victory in the women’s event ahead of Norwegian favourite Sanra Hansson. Nyström’s time of 4.33,07 was 32 seconds faster than that of her nearest competitor.

Some 16,000 skiers from all over the world participated in the Vasaloppet event in the province of Dalarna, held annually on the first Sunday in March. It is the oldest, biggest and one of the longest cross-country ski race in the world.

The race started in 1922, inspired by a run that King Gustav Vasa allegedly made in 1520. This is probably a fable.

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Vasaloppet ski race saved by last-minute snow dump

Sweden's oldest and most famous ski race, the Vasaloppet, has been rescued at the last minute by a snowstorm which coated the track and surrounding landscape just hours before the start.

Vasaloppet ski race saved by last-minute snow dump
Competitors set off into light snow and wind. Photo: Ulf Palm/TT
Racers set off from Sälen at 8am on Sunday into light wind and snow. 
“There's going to be fairly fairly heavy snowfall up until this morning,” Malva Lindborg, a meteorologist for Swedish state forecaster SMHI. Roar Inge Hansen, a meteorologist for the private forecaster Storm, predicted as much as 20cm of snow would fall over the day. 
As they arrived to compete, racers welcomed the snow, although some pointed out it would make the race more of a challenge. 
With an unusually warm winter leaving much of central and southern Sweden practically snowless, racers were fearing long into February they would end up skiing through rain, surrounded by snowless forest and fields. 
The organisers had been forced to manufacture artificial snow, drive it out and dump it on the track to make sure it could be skied. 
Colder weather over the last month had already made the track better than feared even before the snowfall on Saturday night.  
The race, which was first held in 1922, follows the path of the young nobleman Vasa Ericsson Vasa, as he fled Christian II, the then King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 
But while Gustav Vasa travelled from Mora to Sälen, the race follows the 90km track in the opposite direction.