Vasaloppet ski race sells out in 90 seconds

Next year's Vasaloppet race sold out on Sunday in under two minutes, with over 15,000 racers putting their names down for the historic 90-kilometre competition.

Vasaloppet ski race sells out in 90 seconds
When the online gates opened at 9am on Sunday, there was such a flood of interest for Sweden's most famous ski race that the website crashed. When the online bug was squashed an hour later, competitors swarmed in and filled the 15,800 places in just 90 seconds.
"In spite of this warm winter, we can only note that the interest for our races has reached entirely new levels which, of course, is the best response we can have for all our work," Vasaloppet CEO Anders Selling said. 
"It is fantastic that so very many want to be active and set long-term goals for their training."
The interest in the race has surged since previous years, with 2013's competition selling out in ten minutes.
"Naturally it’s a shame that we can’t make room for all, but Vasaloppet has its 15,800 places and, sadly, many will miss out when the interest is so great," Selling added.
The long-distance race is one of Sweden's favourite sports events, inspired by a now-mythical journey by Sweden's future king Gustav Vasa, who was locked in fierce struggle against invading Danes in 1521.
Swedish royals are no strangers to the race, with King Carl XVI Gustaf braving the cold in 1977, Prince Carl Philip in 2004 and Princess Madeleine in 2008.
Two Norwegians won this year's event, which was held late last month, despite concerns the warm weather would lead to the competition's fourth cancellation. 

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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.