Younger Northug earns 1st cross-country World Cup victory

OTEPAA, Estonia (AP) Tomas Northug earned his first cross-country skiing World Cup victory Saturday by taking advantage of a weakened field to win a classical sprint, while fellow Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg dominated the women’s race.

Northug, the younger brother of Norwegian star Petter Northug, mastered the wet conditions and led the final from start to finish to win in 3 minutes, 50.65 seconds.

Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad took second by beating Finnish skier Toni Ketelae in a photo finish.

In the women’s sprint, Flugstad Oestberg took her second World Cup win of the season in a time of 3 minutes, 20.18 seconds.

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson was second, with Celine Brun-Lie of Norway third. Another Norwegian, Olympic sprint champion Maiken Caspersen Falla was fourth.

Petter Northug and six-time Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen were among many big names who skipped the meet.

Bjoergen remains top of the women’s overall standings, 450 points ahead of Therese Johaug, while Martin Johnsrud Sundby retains his 350-point lead in the men’s standings despite not competing this weekend.

Flugstad Oestberg overtook the top spot in the sprint standings from Bjoergen.

Men’s and women’s team sprints are in Otepaa on Sunday.