Swedish cross-country great Nils Karlsson, 94, dies
STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Nils "Mora-Nisse" Karlsson, the Swedish cross-country ski great who won the traditional Vasaloppet race nine times and a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics, died Saturday. He was 94.
He died surrounded by family members, Vasaloppet organizers said.
Karlsson is one of only three people to have won the Vasaloppet at least three times in a row since the race started in 1922. His 50-kilometer Olympic title came at the St. Moritz Games.
Karlsson won 17 individual competitions in the Swedish national championships. He also took the bronze medal at 50 kilometers at the 1950 Nordic World Ski Championship.
"He became a loved star not only for his accomplishments but also for his kind ways," Vasaloppet organizers said.
Vasaloppet is one of the longest and oldest cross-country races and is based on the attempt by Gustav Vasa in 1522 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, and they found him near Salen. Vasa returned to lead the Swedes to independence and was later proclaimed king.
The Vasaloppet follows the same course from Salen to Mora. Karlsson won 90-kilometer (56-mile) the race in 1943, 1945-1951 and 1953.
Karlsson is survived by daughters Karin Green and Marianne Karlsson-Eriksson.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.
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