Norway's Petter Northug won the men's 15-kilometer classic style World Cup race on Sunday, while American Kris Freeman finished a career-best fourth.

Freeman's showing was the best non-sprint finish for a U.S. skier in a World Cup race since March 1983, when Tim Caldwell was second in a 15k in Anchorage, Alaska.

Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen took the women's 10K classic at the Ruka ski center.

The 23-year-old Northug, the World Cup runner-up last season, started slowly and was in 12th place after five kilometers. He moved up to third by 10 kilometers and managed to cross the line just ahead of Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin to win in 35 minutes, 22.2 seconds.

Vylegzhanin, the leader at five and 10 kilometers, finished in 35:23.4 and fellow Russian Alexander Legkov was third in 35:30.1. Freeman crossed in 35:32.3.

"I did ski what I thought was my best race ever today," said Freeman, who was only 32nd after five kilometers. "... Overall it was really what I had hoped to do today, except that I would have liked to have been 10 seconds faster and have won."

While Freeman was pleased with his showing, he feels he can improve before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.

"Everything is about the Olympics this year, and certainly I take a lot of confidence from this," he said. "I haven't done a ton of hard intervals yet, so hopefully there is more fitness to be gained."

Saarinen won in 25:58.0, ahead of Russia's Irina Khazova in 26:11.1 and Norway's Vibeke Skofterud in 26:12.7.

World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall was the top American woman, finishing 18th.