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Pippa hails Vasaloppet finish: ‘It was incredible’

Pippa Middleton, sister of Duchess of Cambridge Catherine, made it across the finish line Sunday in Sweden's gruelling Vasaloppet cross-country ski race.

Pippa hails Vasaloppet finish: 'It was incredible'

Prince William’s sister-in-law was the 412th out of 1,734 women contestants to finish the 90-kilometre race, clocking in at seven hours, 13 minutes and 36 seconds.

Pippa, an avid athlete, took part in Sweden’s longest cross-country race, which runs from Sälen to Mora in the west near the border with Norway, to raise money for charity.

“It was incredible and it was faster than I thought I would manage,” Pippa was quoted by the Swedish-language Aftonbladet daily as saying.

“Now I’m going to rest and put my feet up.”

Pippa’s brother James was 10 minutes behind Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who arrived 5,531th out of the 14,072 men in the race with a time of 6:36:32.

The times were faster than the eight hours, 12 minutes, and 41 seconds posted by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf when he skied the Vasaloppet in 1977.

“To finish in about seven hours is a really good time,” Vasaloppet spokesperson Per Strid said of Middleton’s time to the TT news agency.

The winner of this year’s race was Jorgen Brink for the second straight year, trimming 16 seconds off the course record with a time of 3:38:41.

The women’s winner was Vibeke Skofterud of Norway with a time of 4:08:24.

Some 15,800 skiers started the race, inspired by a dramatic turning point in 1521 for Sweden’s future king Gustav Vasa, who was locked in a life and death struggle against invading Danes.

The first race took place in 1922 and has been held nearly every year since.

Vasaloppet has a reputation as one of the great European events of the winter season, attracting increasing numbers of world class skiers.

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SNOW

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. 
 
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