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Vasaloppet organizers: Entry spots for foreign racers are filling fast

Vasaloppet organizers: Entry spots for foreign racers are filling fast{mosimage}STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Organizers of next year’s cross-country Vasaloppet – the world’s oldest, longest and biggest race – said Thursday that there are only 1,400 places left for foreign skiers. Swedes have already filled up the almost 12,000 places allotted to domestic skiers.

”We have imposed a ceiling of 15,800 skiers for next year and we want 25 percent of those to come from abroad,” said the race’s spokeswoman, Monica Eriksson. ”Right now, we can sign up another 1,400 foreigners for the March 4 race, but new entries are coming in at a fast pace.”

The course is based on a historic 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 later was proclaimed King Gustav Vasa. The Vasaloppet follows the same course from Salen to Mora in central Sweden.

This year’s race was won by Daniel Tynell of Sweden, who finished the 90-kilometer (56 miles) classic-style event in 4 hours, 34 minutes, 9 seconds. Vasaloppet was first held in 1922, when 119 skiers started.

– The Associated Press

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