FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Bjoergen back in form, wins 45 K Vasaloppet

Bjoergen back in form, wins 45 K Vasaloppet{mosimage}MORA, Sweden – Marit Bjorgen took control early and led Norway to a 1-2 finish Saturday in the women’s 45-kilometer Vasaloppet cross-country ski race.

Bjorgen, coming off a disappointing Winter Olympics reportedly derailed by illness, clocked 2 hours, 17 minutes, 53 seconds in the classic-style event.

Hilde G. Pedersen, the 41-year-old veteran, was runner-up, 1.22 behind. Slovenia’s Petra Majdic finished third in 2:21.16.0.

With the win – her 25th career victory on the World Cup circuit – Bjorgen closed in on her second straight overall title.

With six races left, Bjorgen leads runnerup Beckie Scott of Canada by 745 points to 624 in the standings. Scott finished 11th Saturday in 2:22.06.0.

The men’s race, which is 90 kilometers and the world’s oldest, longest and biggest cross-country ski marathon, will be held Sunday.

The men’s course is based on an historic incident 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.

The Associated Press

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