Crown Prince didn’t do as well in ‘Birkebeiner’ this year

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Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon didn’t do nearly as well in this year’s Birkebeiner race over the mountains from Østerdalen to Gudbrandsdalen. He did beat his other royal rival, though, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, while a Norwegian won the race itself.

John Kristian Dahl, who’d been favoured to win, was thrilled with his first Birkebeiner victory, just weeks after also winning Sweden’s tough long-distance Vasaloppet race. Dahl skied the 54-kilometer course from Rena to Lillehammer in just two hours, 27 minutes and 34 seconds, a fraction ahead of closest rivals Anders Aukland and Petter Eliassen.

By comparison, it took Crown Prince Haakon four hours, 10 minutes and 10 seconds to ski the race in his class of 40- to 44-year-olds. That was 34 minutes more than he skied last year and it wasn’t fast enough to win him the coveted merke, the prize showing an accomplishment within one’s age group.

The Norwegian crown prince royally beat the other crown prince competing, though, with Frederik of Denmark crossing the finish line after five hours, five minutes and five seconds.

“It was great fun,” Haakon claimed to reporters afterwards, “but it was tough. Great arrangement, lots of people along the trails, and it should have been easier after doing it before because you know the course, but it wasn’t.” One of the organizers told newspaper Aftenposten that the heir to Norway’s throne was exhausted at the end of the race and exclaimed that “if you’re going to go Birken, you should train a lot.”

Seraina Boner of Switzerland was the first woman to cross the finish line, after two hours, 55 minutes and four seconds, followed by Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland. The fastest Norwegian woman was Astrid Øyre Slind, finishing after three hours and 10 seconds.

newsinenglish.no staff