Russia stuns Norway to win men’s World Cup relay; Norway women win

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 4×7.5 kilometer race in Lillehammer for Russia in 1 hour, 19 minutes, 4.7 seconds.

Norway’s teams took second, third and fourth places, 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.

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 4×5-kilometer 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.