Northug wins third gold medal

LIBEREC, Czech Republic -- Petter Northug sprinted away from his rivals again to win the men's 50-kilometer freestyle race Sunday for his third gold medal at the Nordic skiing world championships.

Northug dropped Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia and Tobias Angerer of Germany on the home straight to finish in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 38.1 seconds. Vylegzhanin was 0.7 seconds back for silver while Angerer took bronze, 2 seconds behind.

"A great race for me," Northug said. "In the last hill, I had a good position and here at the last few hundred meters I had a good feeling, so it's great to take the gold medal today. It's amazing to have three golds here."

A large group of skiers stayed together for most of the mass start race and Northug bided his time in the main group and no one managed to shake off the Norwegian before the final sprint. Northug is known for having the best finish on the circuit and also won the 30K skiathlon pursuit and anchored Norway's winning relay team, deciding both races with a late burst.

This time, he went passed Angerer with about 500 meters to go but was unable to shake off his rivals until just before the finish.

After missing out on an individual world title in Sapporo, Japan, two years ago, Northug has now firmly established himself as Norway's next skiing great, and the sport's biggest star.

"I'm very satisfied with these championships," Northug said. "I think the Czech Republic and Liberec is a good place for me."

Angerer had made a late attempt to break away with one kilometer to go, but Northug and several others were able to keep up.