Nazi flags appear at finish of Sweden’s Vasaloppet ski race

A number of flags from a Nazi organization were held up by bystanders near the finishing area of the Vasaloppet ski race on Sunday.

Nazi flags appear at finish of Sweden’s Vasaloppet ski race
Vasaloppet's 16 races attract 100,000 participants annually. Photo: Ulf Palm / TT

Race organisers have strongly criticized the presence of the flags at the event, which is the world’s oldest and biggest ski race, with up to 100,000 registered participants.

“We condemn such actions. We have reported this to the police,” the event’s CEO Eva-Lena Frick said.

Frick said she considered the waving of the flags to have been a pre-planned action, given it occurred just as the race was finishing.

Police spokesperson Stefan Dangardt said that law enforcement had been alerted to the incident around lunchtime on Sunday.

“A report will be filed of a breach of public order laws. This will be regarded as a demonstration for which a permit is required, but was not applied for,” Dangardt said.

The classic 90-kilometre Vasaloppet course starts in the village of Sälen and ends in the town of Mora in the northwestern Dalarna region.

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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.