Three dead in Sweden’s annual Vasaloppet race
MORA (Sweden): Two men competing in Sweden’s annual Vasaloppet cross-country ski race died during the event, a doctor said Monday. A third man died before the race began on Sunday.
Race doctor Ulf Hallmarker said the two skiers who died during the race were being examined by pathologists, but it was likely all three were victims of heart attacks. One of the skiers, a Norwegian, was aged in his 30s. The other two were Swedes in their 60s. The Norwegian died after having skied some 70 kilometers (43-miles) of the 90-kilometer (56-mile) race. “What surprises me most is that a young and well-trained man can die just like that,” Hallmarker said. “This is something we will have to investigate.” Since the annual race began in 1922, seven people have died while competing in it. Oscar Svard of Sweden won the race by one second on Sunday, finishing in 3 hours, 51 minutes, 47 seconds. He was followed by Martin Larsson of Sweden and Jorgen Aukland of Norway.
About 15,000 skiers started in the 81st running of the race at Salen, near the Norwegian border. For most, it took more than 10 hours to finish. When the Vasaloppet was held for the first time in 1922, all but two of the 119 starters finished. The course is based on an event from nearly 500 years ago. In 1522, Gustav Vasa attempted to gather peasants for a revolt against the occupying Danes. Vasa fled when he got no support. The people of Mora changed their minds and sent their two best skiers to bring Vasa back. They found him near the Norwegian border in Salen. He returned to lead the Swedes to independence, and was later proclaimed King Gustav Vasa. The Vasaloppet follows the same course from Salen to Mora. ap