Cross-Country Skiing - Johaug's absence hands Kowalczyk fourth World Cup crown

Justyna Kowalczyk won the overall World Cup cross-county skiing title once again after claiming sprint victory in Drammen, Norway.

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Cross-Country Skiing - Johaug's absence hands Kowalczyk fourth World Cup crown
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Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland wins the WC cross country sprint event in Drammen (Reuters)

The Pole recorded three consecutive World Cup titles between 2009 and 2011, but could only watch as Marit Bjoergen finished top of the pile last time around.

But the 30km classical Olympic champion is once again the woman to beat as she stormed to her tenth World Cup win of the season ahead of Norwegian pair Heidi Wang and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, who were second and third respectively.

However Kowalczyk's fourth World Cup crown was handed to her before racing even got underway on Wednesday with Norway's Therese Johaug absent in front of her own fans, as she was the only one who could catch her.

With five rounds remaining Kowalczyk cannot be caught at the top of the leaderboard, with the battle for second and third still very much alive.

Despite not competing in Drammen Johaug is still second on 1097 points, with American World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall 43 behind in third after finishing fifth.

While the women's overall World Cup title race is now over the same cannot be said for the men after Petter Northug showed blistering speed to record his second-straight victory.

The Norwegian is now just 23 points behind overall World Cup leader Dario Cologna from Switzerland, with five rounds remaining.

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