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Changchun in northern China is about to establish itself as the furthermost winter sports city in the country, this owing a great deal to the establishing of Vasaloppet China and Ridderrennet China. This season, the 7 million city has also organized World Cup races in Short Track, Freestyle and Bordercross. The cross country world cup sprint finals was held on the biggest football stadium in Changchun in 2006 and it also has a World Cup race in Jingyuetan Park in 2007. Changchun is also interested in strengthening its connections to the Nordic countries. A few years ago, Mora in Sweden became a sister city to Changchun, and now, the mayor Cui Jie also wishes to have a Norwegian sister city.

Norwegian embassy minister Kjell Tormod Pettersen who took part in Vasaloppet China himself is supportive of this idea. – Changchun has great potential. It is the largest industrial city in the region, especially its automotive industry; it is leading in high technology and has some of Chinas most distinguished universities.

Although Norwegian skiers didn’t have that much success in Vasaloppet China this time, Kjetil Dammen Hagvedt, who took a 14th position in the race, also took the 3rd overall placement in Tour de Ski China which was concluded at Vasaloppet China.

– It has really been great over here. Having been to sightseeing, shopping and travelling, plus having gone to large banquets, receptions and getting a lot of media attention, it has at times been a bit difficult to keep focus on the sport part. But China is a wonderful country and I hope to come back here next year as well.

Photo:  Mr. Wang, Vice Mayor of Changchun, Minister Kjell Tormod Pettersen and Cultural Attaché Tone Helene Aarvik at the Norwegian embassy in Beijing congratulates Kjetil to his 3rd place in Tour de Ski China. (Photo: Erik Unaas)