Sweden's prestige-filled classic marathon came down to a last-minute sprint again this year. Oskar SvÃ¤rd out-poled Norway's Jrgen Aukland, finishing one second ahead of Aukland in a time of 3:58:23. Stanislav Rezac from the Czech republic finished third.
Seventy-seven kilometers into the race, Aukland went to the front of the large lead pack and quickly increased the tempo. Both SvÃ¤rd and Rezac followed, but Aukland was not able to get either of them to help him pull the group along. SvÃ¤rd later told reporters that since Aukland considered the pre-race favorite, he didn't think it was smart tactics to help him out. By saving his strength, SvÃ¤rd was able to outsprint Aukland—giving Aukland his second 2nd-place finish in a row.
Jrgen is Anders Aukland's little brother, and has chosen to focus on FIS Worldloppet races exclusively. He contends that he is not good enough to qualify for the Norwegian men's World Cup team, although many consider him to be one of the best flat-course skiers in the world. This season he was won three of the five Worldloppet races he has entered. Jrgen also has a North American connection, having skied for the University of Colorado's ski team a few years ago. Another Scandinavian skier who has spent time over here also did well on Sunday: Sweden's Magnus Eriksson, who last year skied for the Subaru Factory Team, finished 8th in 4:00:30. Rossignol's Marc Gilbertson also raced, finishing 245th in a time of 4:43:22.
Other familiar names near the top of the results list: Italian World and Olympic champion Silvio Fauner finished 13th in 4:00;30 , and Norway's Erling Jevne finshed 21st in 4:03:08.
Sweden's Ulrica Persson lead the women's race from start to finish and won with a time of 4:32:57. Persson finished over ten minutes ahead of Sofia Lind, who was second in 4:43:02.