Norwegians won both the men’s and women’s traditional and lengthy Swedish ski race Vasaloppet over the weekend. John Kristian Dahl became the fourth Norwegian to snare the men’s victory in the 90-kilometer race that ends in the heartland of Swedish culture, Dalarna, while Laila Kveli claimed victory for the women for the second year in a row.
Dahl, originally from Kirkenes in Northern Norway, later moved to Trøndelag and specialized in sprint before turning his attention to long-distance races. He placed seventh in the Vasaloppet last year and second in this year’s Marciolonga race in Italy. He skied Vasaloppet’s 90 kilometers in four hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds. Another Norwegian was just behind him, Johan Kjølstad, who placed second three seconds later. Third place went to Jörgen Brink of Sweden while four other Norwegians placed in the Top 10.
Kveli, from Lierne in Nord-Trøndelag, skied the course in four hours, 31 minutes and 57 seconds, followed by Swedes Britta Johansson Norgren and Annika Löfström. Kveli placed second right behind champion Norwegian skier Vibeke Skofterud in 2012 and also won Vasaloppet last year.
The race was nearly cancelled because of poor snow conditions after this year’s mild and rainy winter, but organizers managed to prepare tracks and move forward as planned. A total of 14,661 skiers started the race on Sunday, of the 15,800 who had registered, according to preliminary figures from the organizers.