Cross-Country

The Associated Press - Sunday Dec. 8, 2013 10:06 ET

Russia, Norway win World Cup season's 1st cross-country ski relays

Canada 14th in men's relay

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U.S. teammates laugh as Jessica Diggins kisses the snow after they won bronze Sunday in Lillehammer. (Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/AP)

Russia won the men's competition while Norway dominated the women's race Sunday in the first cross-country relays of the World Cup season.  

Maxim Vylegzhanin's strong finish on the last leg clinched the men's 4x7.5 kilometre race in Lillehammer for Russia in 1 hour, 19minutes, 4.7 seconds.  

Norway's teams took second, third and fourth places in the competition at Lillehammer, with Sweden rounding off the top five.  

Vylegzhanin stunned the Norwegians by pulling away in the final stretch, where even sprint specialist Petter Northug couldn't match him.  

Northug, who anchored Norway's first team, was beaten to the finish line also by Finn Krogh of Norway II.  

The other skiers in Russia's team were Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Bessmertnykh and Alexander Legkov.  

Canada was 14th in the competition. Skiing, in order, were: Len Valjas of Toronto, Alex Harvey of St.-Ferreol, Que., Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., and Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont.

In the women's competition, Heidi Weng, Therese Johaug, Kristin Stoermer Steira and Marit Bjoergen were outstanding for Norway.  

Johaug broke away from the pack on the second leg of the 4x5-kilometre race to give Norway enough of a margin to coast to victory in 58 minutes, 38.9 seconds.  

Finland was 1:13 behind while a strong last leg by Jessie Diggins secured a podium finish for the U.S., a further 23 seconds back. 

Norway's second team was fourth, ahead of Russia and Sweden.

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