The Associated Press - Saturday Dec. 21, 2013 10:23 ET

Nikita Kriukov wins men's cross-country ski race in Asiago

Daria Gaiazova finishes14th in women's race

Nikita Kriukov, of Russia, celebrates after winning
 a cross-country ski, men's World Cup Sprint event, in Asiago, Italy., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (Felice Calabro/Associated Press)

Olympic champion Nikita Kriukov of Russia claimed his first World Cup cross-country victory Saturday by edging Alexey Poltoranin in a classical-style sprint in Asiago, Italy.

Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland captured the women's event. Kikkan Randall of the U.S. went out in the quarterfinals and lost her lead in the sprint standings to Kowalczyk.

Kriukov stuck his ski out to beat Poltoranin by 0.14 seconds. Gianluca Cologna was 4.11 seconds behind for his first top-three finish. Eldar Roenning of Norway finished fourth after his pole broke on the final climb.

With overall leader and triple Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen skipping the race, Kowalczyk led from start to finish for her 29th individual World Cup victory. She beat Finland's Anne Kylloenen by 1.34 seconds. Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla was 2.30 seconds behind the winner.

Canada's Daria Gaiazova finished 14th in the women's event and Devon Kershaw was Canada's top finisher in the men's event placing 33rd.

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