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Vasaloppet in 2005

50,000+ Skiers Gear Up for Royal Tracks

More than 50,000 Swedish and foreign skiers have travelled to Sweden's central province of Dalarana this week to participate in various races taking place in the run-up to one of longest and most gruelling cross country ski races in the world, Vasaloppet.

But the starting shot for the biggest and most famous race—a tough 90 kilometers between the cities of Sälen and Mora—won't be sounded until Sunday. The 16,000-odd participants of the big race will follow in the historical tracks of Gustav Wasa, a man who became Swedish king after fleeing for his life from Danish troops on that same route a full 500 years ago.

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