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Santas compete in Sweden

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Santas compete in Sweden
Palestinian Christian Issa Kassissieh, dressed as Santa Claus, waves to tourists during the distribution of Christian trees to Christian residents of Jerusalem outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, December 22, 2010. UPI/Debbie Hill | License Photo

GALLIVARE, Sweden, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A 24-year-old Dutch man bested eight other competitors from various countries to win the 2011 Santa Games in Sweden.

Stefan Veronderd, who wowed the judges with his rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," also set himself apart from competitors hailing from other countries including Japan, France and Colombia in events that included porridge eating, the Santa-sack race and the Candy Cane spree, The Local reported Tuesday.

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"It feels great. I really didn't expect it. Now I have to come back and defend my title next year," Veronderd said.

However, organizers said they had to replace the traditional reindeer riding competition due to a lack of snow with mechanical bull riding.

"This is the first time in 63 years we didn't have enough snow cover this time of year," said Mattias Svalenstrom of the Gallivare tourist office.

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