Sweden’s Jörgen Brink won the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet, the famous cross-country ski marathon. It was Brink’s first Vasaloppet win, and he narrowly beat favorite Daniel Tynell, also from Sweden, with a winning time of 4 hours, 2 minutes, and 59 seconds. Brink was born in 1974 in Delsbo, and has competed in cross-country skiing since 1994.

In the women’s category, it was Susanne Nyström who won in 4 hours, 33 minutes and 7 seconds. Nyström was born in 1982 in Laisvall. A record 15,702 skiers started the race in Sälen, close to the Norwegian border, with many normally taking more than 10 hours to finish.
The traditional story behind Vasaloppet is of course that in 1520, the young Gustav Ericsson Vasa was escaping from the troops of the King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (the Kalmar Union) Christian II (aka Christian the Tyrant). The king had, in a move to silence the opposition of the Swedish nobility who opposed him, invited aristocrats to a reconciliation party in Stockholm only to then have them massacred in what came to be known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. Among those killed were Vasa’s parents. Gustav himself escaped, closely followed by the Danish troops. Vasa told the people around Mora of the massacre, but his story was not believed and his attempt to raise an army failed. With the troops after him, Gustav Vasa fled on skis to Norway. But soon afterwards his fellow countrymen heard news that Gustav was telling the truth and they sent two skiers to catch Gustav and have him return to Mora. They caught up to him near Sälen, Sweden, and Gustav then successfully led the revolt against Danish rule.
In 1922, a Swedish newspaper publisher came up with an idea of holding a ski race to commemorate the founding of modern Sweden. And who better to be inspired by then Gustav Vasa? Today the winner is greeted by a “kranskulla” (a garland girl) who hangs the laurel around his neck. And to be chosen as kranskulla is nearly as special as winning the race itself – and almost as difficult. To be considered you must be from Dalarna, and you must be unmarried. Moreover, a kranskulla has to have demonstrated sporting merits. Also the winning woman gets a laurel of course, and the one to honor the ladies is a “kransmas”.
For more info on the race: www.vasaloppet.se