- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

SZKLARSKA POREBA, Poland (AP) - Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland earned a dominant home victory on the cross-country World Cup by winning a classical-style mass start race Sunday, while Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia had a much narrower victory in the men’s event.

Kowalczyk is one of Poland’s biggest gold-medal hopes in Sochi and was cheered on by a sea of Polish flags as she skied alone toward the finish, beating Yulia Tchekaleva of Russia by 41.8 seconds in the 10-kilometer race. Julia Ivanova of Russia was third, 1:15.2 back.

Kowalczyk said “today’s competition was a good test before the games but I still do not know how my shape is.”

Vylegzhanin held off fellow Russian Evgeniy Belov to win by 2.2 seconds. Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan was third, another 0.1 seconds back.

The Norwegian and Swedish teams skipped the meet because of national championships.

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