Mora, Sweden – Daniel Tynell (SWE) joined select company when he became just the sixth skier to win the famed Vasaloppet more than once. Tynell completed the 90km classic race in a time of 4:10:55, 23 seconds ahead of fellow Swede Oskar Svärd. Sandra Hansson (SWE) continued her strong marathon season, winning the women’s event.
Said Tynell after the race, “to win Vasaloppet is a huge thing in Sweden, well in the class of a World Championship gold medal. All Swedes have got some sort of relationship to Vasaloppet and know how tough and hard it is. Either one has been in the race oneself or seen it on TV.”
Tynell had his work cut out for him, up against not only Svärd, but the Aukland brothers of Norway and Stanislav Rezac of the Czech Republic, and Norwegian World Cup veteran Jens Arne Svartedal among others. With 30km to go, Anders Aukland made a strong move, but Tynell responded, and Aukland was unable to break away. The pack reformed and Tynell bided his time until there were 20 kilometers to go. His first attack at 70k failed, but when he went again with just 12 kilometers to go, he was able to thin out the lead group. Finally, just 5km before the finish, he attacked again, and was able to open up a gap that he maintained to the finish.
“On the hill after the start on the way up to the marshes I had perfect grip, and that was of course a real comfort. The next bit of good news came when we got up to the marshlands and I realized that my skis were also gliding perfectly. So then it felt really good,” said Tynell.
Rezac claimed the final podium spot, 38 seconds behind the winner. Anders Aukland ended in 5th and brother Joergen, the defending champion, in 8th. Svartedal slipped to 18th after leading earlier in the competition. Bruno Carrara (ITA) was the only non Swede or Norwegian in the top 10.
Swedish World Cup sprinter Robin Bryntesson finished 12th, and former Norwegian star Thomas Alsgaard was 14th. The great Gunde Svan participated, skiing with his former serviceman, Ferry Grill.
“The Vasaloppet start is an experience we’ve long been looking forward to. Even back when I was an active competitor, we talked about someday skiing Vasaloppet together, but it never came to anything, until now,” said Gunde.
Svan had to leave the World Championships in Liberec early. He is the Manager of the Swedish National Team.
“I told the Swedish Ski Federation and the team members about this long before the season began. So it’s accepted that I’ll take a trip home, and everyone understands.”
“And that’s because my 50th birthday this year falls on the same day as Vasaloppet. So we decided that, right, now we’ll do it,” explains Ferry Grill.
He was Gunde Svan’s serviceman from 1979 to 1991 and during that time they built up a strong relationship. The pair was gunning to break six hours, and succeeded, clocking in at 5:40:10, good for 1611th.
In the women’s race, Sandra Hansson posted a convincing 1:15 win over Jenny Hansson. Nina Lintzén made it a Swedish sweep in third, +4:16. In fact, Sweden claimed the top 8 places.
The women’s race broke apart quickly. Sandra Hansson started quickly and opened a one minute lead by the 11km mark. Jenny Hansson, in second, was another minute ahead of Lintzén. And by 55km the gap was almost a minute and a half.
But the race was far from over. Over the next 12 kilometers, Jenny Hansson cut the lead to just 23 seconds, and with 28 kilometers to go, the two were even. They remained neck and neck past the 81 kilometer mark, before Sandra was able to pull away for the victory.
Over 44,000 skiers took part in the week of races.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.