Nils Karlsson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameNils Emanuel•Karlsson
Used nameNils•Karlsson
Born25 June 1917 in Östnor, Mora, Dalarna (SWE)
Died16 June 2012 in Mora, Dalarna (SWE)
AffiliationsIFK Mora, Mora (SWE)
NOC Sweden
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Nils Karlsson, better known as “Mora-Nisse,” was born in the village Östnor outside Mora in Dalarna and remains one of Sweden’s most popular athletes. Karlsson won Olympic gold in the 50 km race at the 1948 Winter Olympics. In his other three individual appearances in St. Moritz and again in Oslo in 1952 he came close to the medals and was placed fifth – twice in the 18 km - and sixth in the 50 km. At the 1950 World Championships he won a bronze medal in the 50K. At the Holmenkollen Ski Festival Karlsson won the 50 km in 1947 and 1951. He won a total of 37 national championships, including 17 individual, and during his career he participated in 256 races, placing in the top six in 246 of them.

Competing 10 times, Mora-Nisse also won nine Vasa runs (1943, 1945-51, 1953), which finished in his hometown of Mora. In 1944 he was second and he was ill in 1952. His last victory in record time was achieved while still wearing wooden skis. After he finished his active career, Karlsson joined the Vasa run’s organization team and worked as both race director and course manager for 17 years. He was awarded the Swedish Dagbladet Medal in 1944 for “the first Swedish Championship triple in Boden.” In 1952, he was the second Swedish cross-country skier to receive the Holmenkollen medal.

In 1953 Karlsson published his autobiography I Vita Spar (In White Tracks). In connection with his 65th birthday Mora-Nisse’s Jubilee Fund was instituted, which supports young ski talents aged 17-20 years in Sweden. He led the country’s Olympic and World Cup cross-country ski team from 1954-66, but he lived in his native village all his life, where a road was also named after him during his lifetime, and where he ran his own sporting goods store “Mora-Nisse Sports.” Even at the age of 90, he did exercises every day and managed his garden and household. Two grandchildren of Mora-Nisse have been successful in the Vasa run. Grandson Erik Eriksson has repeatedly reached the finish among the top ten with his best position being fourth place, while Erik’s brother Anders has been among the top one 100 on several occasions, which peaked at 38th place.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Winter Olympics Cross Country Skiing (Skiing) SWE Nils Karlsson
18 kilometres, Men (Olympic) 5
50 kilometres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1952 Winter Olympics Cross Country Skiing (Skiing) SWE Nils Karlsson
18 kilometres, Men (Olympic) 5
50 kilometres, Men (Olympic) 6

Special Notes