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Relief for Sweden's Vasaloppet race as air warms to -7C

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Relief for Sweden's Vasaloppet race as air warms to -7C
The weather was a warm -7C. Photo: Ulf Palm/ TT
09:17 CET+01:00
The organisers of Sweden's Vasaloppet, the world's longest and oldest cross-country ski race, expressed relief on Sunday as the temperature warmed to a balmy -7C for the race start, cutting the chance of injuries.
“We're not at all worried,” Tommy Höglund, one of the race's organizers, told The Local. 
 
“It was bad at the beginning of the  week, -25C, but it's good now. It will be good skiing conditions and easy to put on the grip wax.” 
 
The first of the 97,411 participants set off from Sälen, near the Norwegian border, at 8am on Sunday. 
 
Höglund earlier warned competitors to be extra careful, saying that competitors, particularly those from the south of Sweden, did not know how to dress for current extreme weather conditions. 
 
"It's been a long time since we've had it so cold in Sweden. Many do not seem to have any experience in managing the cold,” he told Norway's Adressavisen newspaper. 
 
Offshoot competitions held earlier in the week saw several injuries with competitors hospitalised with frostbite to fingers and toes. 
 
“Many had clothes which were too thin, are were not used to the persistent cold,” Höglund said. 
 
The cold weather led to calls earlier in the week for the Nattvasan, a race held on Friday night that follows the Vasaloppet route, to be shortened or even cancelled, but in the end it went ahead as normal. 
 
Press officer Camilla Sandy said the cold had nonetheless made the race tougher going. 
 
“There were good conditions at the start, around -10C, but it was then -20C at some points on the track, and that made the going quite heavy because of the cold,” she told the Dala-Demokraten newspaper. 
 
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