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Originally published Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 6:41 AM

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Northug clinches overall cross-country WCup title

Petter Northug of Norway clinched the overall cross-country World Cup title Sunday with a convincing victory in the final race of the season.

The Associated Press

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FALUN, Sweden —

Petter Northug of Norway clinched the overall cross-country World Cup title Sunday with a convincing victory in the final race of the season.

Northug had a big lead over his main competitors going into the concluding 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit race at the three-day World Cup finals, and won the race in 35 minutes, 48.3 seconds. In his usual flamboyant style, Northug even slowed down on the final straight to savor the win before finally crossing the line. Finn Haagen Krogh came 0.7 seconds back and Martin Johnsrud Sundby was another 1.1 behind in third as Norwegians swept the podium.

Alexander Legkov of Russia and Swiss defending champion Dario Cologna both had a chance of overtaking Northug for the overall victory but couldn't come close to catching the Norwegian. Legkov beat Cologna in a sprint for fourth place, and thereby finished second in the overall standings ahead of the Swiss.

Northug, who also won the overall title in 2010, finished on 1,561 points. Legkov had 1,381 and Cologna 1,364.

In the women's finale, Norway's Marit Bjoergen protected her big lead to win a 10K pursuit that had little impact on the overall standings.

The triple Olympic champion skied alone for the whole race and won in 26 minutes, 39.6 seconds. Fellow Norwegian Therese Johaug was 49.3 seconds back in second, with Sweden's Charlotte Kalla 1:11.7 behind in third.

It was Bjoergen's 59th World Cup race victory. In her 13 races this season, she was never worse than second. However, she skipped several races ahead of the world championships and couldn't prevent Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland from taking the overall title. Kowalczyk skipped Sunday's race but still finished more than 500 points ahead of Johaug in second. Kikkan Randall of the United States was third, with Bjoergen in fourth.

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